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.”
Voting Rights Restoration (nationwide)