Bill Would Restore Voting Rights for People After Prison Release
Thursday, March 25, 2021
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington lawmakers could restore voting rights for people after they've been released from prison.
House Bill 1078 would allow people convicted of a felony who are not in confinement to be eligible to cast their ballots.
Christopher Poulos, executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, said currently folks have to complete probation or parole, known as supervised release, to participate in elections.
"Even though they are potentially living and working in their communities, paying taxes, raising families, etc., still don't have the fundamental right to vote, which we find highly disturbing and unacceptable," Poulos stated.
Poulos argued laws barring people who were incarcerated from voting have roots in laws designed to stop Black and other people of color from voting, especially during the Jim Crow era.
Opponents of the bill say people should fully repay their debt to society, including any legal debts or obligations, before having their right to vote restored.
Poulos was formerly incarcerated in a federal prison, and said being able to vote shook him from the exile many people feel when they are released.
"By being welcomed into the civic process, being welcomed as a full member of the community, that's really conducive to pro-social, healthy behavior engagement," Poulos contended. "And therefore reduces the risk of a person returning to harmful behaviors and even breaking the law."
House Bill 1078 has passed the House and is currently in the Senate.
Twenty states, including Oregon and California, as well as the District of Columbia, either restore a person's right to vote when they are released or never take it away.
get more stories like this via email
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …
SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…
CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …
BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …