05
Jan
10

Of voting and felons

Really interesting development today in the voting rights department, courtesy of the cyborg P-I:

In a move that could see Washington inmates voting from prison, a federal appeals court has thrown out the state’s restrictions on felon voting.

Under state law, residents convicted of a felony currently lose the right to vote until they are released from custody and off of Department of Corrections supervision. Tuesday’s split ruling by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel puts those restrictions in doubt, as two of three judges reviewing the voting rights lawsuit found that the state restrictions unfairly penalize minorities.

More below the jump

Washington, like most states, prevents its felons from voting while they are serving a prison sentence. Washington is unlike a lot of states in allowing former felons to vote again after their debt to society has been paid. The Bus worked hard during the 2009 legislative session in support of the bill that allowed felons to vote after their sentence was served.

But this here is a whole new ballgame. The 9th Circuit argues that felons should be allowed to vote while they serve their sentences. It’s a proposition that’s already controversial: the PI article has Secretary of State Sam Reed (the guy in charge of voting rules and elections) against the change:

“[Losing voting rights is] part of the penalty… A person loses their rights when they violate the rights of others by perpetrating a felony. … As long as when they get out they get a chance to rejoin society, that’s the important part.”

And the News Tribune’s website says state Attorney General Rob McKenna is probably going to make moves- an appeal- to prevent the change. We’ll keep you posted.

Still, you can see why this guy is excited:

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