For decades, few paid attention to a felon sitting in prison and not having the right to vote. It was considered part of the punishment. “Doing the time” meant stepping behind the curtain on any given election day was not an option.
Recently, a groundswell of activity has states considering laws resembling those in Washington when it comes to the restoration of voting rights.
Current voter laws in the Evergreen State include:
- Restoring the right to vote occurs after a resident convicted of a felony is no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections
- Felons convicted in another state or at the federal level can vote provided that they are not currently incarcerated.
- All fines, restitution, and other obligations must be satisfied before registration; failure to comply will result in voter right revocation.
Felons in many states who are released from prison but serving their probation still find themselves unable to exercise what many believe to be a fundamental right for all U.S. citizens. As with any controversial matter, there are those in favor and opponents satisfied that the status quo is best.
Those opposed believe that criminal activity equals dishonesty and automatically disqualifies them from casting a ballot. Supporters see it as a chance/second chance for every citizen to participate in the democratic process. Simply put, their punishment takes a form of disenfranchisement that is never-ending and may not actually “fit the crime.”
Colorado is the most recent state to allow parolees to vote, adding 11,000 added to the list of eligible voters. New state law now allows those convicted of crimes and on parole to vote in state contests.
Second chances do not come very often, nor do they carry this level of significance.