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Press Release

Washington State Senate Passes Bill to Restore Voting Rights to People on Probation and Parole

The legislation now awaits Governor Jay Inslee’s signature to become law. Washington would become the 20th state to restore voting rights upon release from prison.

March 24, 2021
Contact: Rebecca Autrey, Media Contact, rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu, 202-753-5904

Today the Wash­ing­ton State Senate voted to auto­mat­ic­ally restore voting rights to more than 20,000 people in the state who have past crim­inal convic­tions and are on community super­vi­sion, the equi­val­ent of parole and proba­tion in Wash­ing­ton. The House passed the same meas­ure last month. The legis­la­tion now awaits Governor Jay Inslee’s signa­ture to become law. Wash­ing­ton would become the 20th state to restore voting rights upon release from prison. 

Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elec­tions Program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the follow­ing comment: 

“The state senate today brought Wash­ing­ton one step closer to ending a sense­less voting ban. We look forward to Governor Inslee sign­ing this bill into law to restore voting rights to people upon release from prison.

“We thank Sen. Patty Kuderer and Rep. Tarra Simmons for their lead­er­ship on the legis­la­tion.

“Allow­ing people with past crim­inal convic­tions to vote is pivotal in welcom­ing them as full members of their communit­ies. When indi­vidu­als feel included in soci­ety, they have more success in build­ing lives for them­selves and their famil­ies. 

“This is also a step towards racial justice in voting. Due to the racial dispar­it­ies in the state’s crim­inal justice system, Wash­ing­ton’s Black resid­ents are four times more likely than others to be disen­fran­chised.” 

Wash­ing­ton State Sen. Patty Kuderer had the follow­ing comment: 

“At a time when many states are actively work­ing to restrict voting rights, Wash­ing­ton state has been work­ing to expand access to demo­cracy. HB 1078 is an import­ant continu­ation of that work. Voting is the found­a­tion of our demo­cracy. It gives every Amer­ican a stake in our collect­ive future and an oppor­tun­ity to shape our soci­ety for the better. I’m pleased this bill is now one step closer to the governor’s desk and am grate­ful for the lead­er­ship of Rep. Simmons on getting HB 1078 approved by the House this session.”

Related resources:

Voting Rights Restor­a­tion (nation­wide)

Voting Rights Restor­a­tion Efforts in Wash­ing­ton

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