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

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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.”

Tiffany Tertipes
Tiffany Tertipes

Many Washingtonians lauded the decision as 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.

"Restoring voter eligibility for all persons convicted of a felony offense who are not in total confinement under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections" is the bill's purpose.

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