Felons' right to vote reinstated with sentence completion
The ACLU led efforts by a broad coalition of groups to pass HB 1517 of 2009, which automatically reinstates the right to vote for felons once they have completed their sentence. Previously, felons could get their right to vote back only after they had paid all of their fines and successfully completed a complicated reinstatement procedure. Representative Jeannie Darnielle worked tirelessly and effectively to obtain passage of this important bill.
It has long been recognized that taking away the right to vote for felons disproportionately affects African-Americans. However, it is less well-known that loss of the right to vote upon felony conviction has a disproportionate impact on citizens with psychiatric disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. Disability Rights Washington (DRW) helped legislators appreciate the value of restoring the right to vote for individuals in recovery.
In coming months, DRW will be promoting awareness of the new law.