Can a Felon Vote in Washington?

Washington State was originally part of Oregon Territory before it separated to become Washington Territory after 1853. It became the 42rd US state in 1889.

According to the Prisoners in 2015 statistical bulletin issued by the Department of Justice, there were some 18,284 prisoners under the jurisdiction of Washington correctional facilities. Of these, 16,829 were men and 1,455 were women.

Voting is important in a democratic society since it represents the most basic way for citizens to make their voices heard. By voting their chosen candidates they can help decide the policies and the political direction the country will take.

Can Felons Vote in Washington State?

Felons under the authority of the Department of Corrections are not allowed to vote. This includes those who are in jail or under community custody.

Once you have finished your prison term or have completed your parole or probation term, your rights are automatically restored. A certificate of discharge is not necessary for rights restoration.

You can register to vote even if you still have fines or other legal obligations to pay off. However, the sentencing court can still revoke these rights.

Even if they were registered before they went to jail, released felons must still re-register. They must also meet other eligibility requirements before they can register to vote.

How Felons Can Restore Voters’ Rights in Washington State

If you are no longer under DOC authority, your rights are automatically restored. Even if you were convicted in Federal court or another state, your voting rights will be restored once you are released.

In addition, you must meet voter eligibility requirements such as being a legal resident of the state and a citizen of the US. Once your rights are restored you must register again to vote.

You can register to vote using a variety of methods. You can visit the MyVote website, print out a form and return it to the registrar, ask that a form be mailed to you or visit the county elections department.

However, the Secretary of State screens the list of eligible voters thrice a year, using information from the court system and the DOC. Ineligible felons will be sent a letter with information on how to challenge the cancellation.

Sources

https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/voters/Felons-and-Voting-Rights.aspx

https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/Voter-Eligibility.aspx

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