Now that HB 1517, which would restore voting rights to ex-felons who have completed all supervision under the Department of Corrections, has passed the House, it is up to the Washington State Senate to complete the job. The bill passed out of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee on Monday and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.
The next step is for the Rules Committee to approve HB 1517 and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote, an action that depends primarily on the Senate Leadership. Thus, the most pressing action needed from us at the moment is to contact the four members of the Senate Leadership (regardless of what district one lives in) and urge them to bring HB 1517 to a vote on the floor (see contact information below).
Sen. Lisa Brown (Majority Leader): (360) 786-7604Sen. Ed Murray (Majority Caucus Chair): (360) 786-7628 Sen. Tracey Eide (Majority Floor Leader): (360) 786-7658 Sen. Chris Marr (Majority Whip): (360) 786-7610 Sen. Rosa Franklin (Vice-Chair Rules): (360) 786-7656
You might mention that most states including Oregon and California permit voting by ex-felons. The current requirement in Washington State that all Legal Financial Obligations must be paid before voting registration is discriminatory against persons with less resources. Voting rights are significant in restoring ex-felons’ belief that they have a stake in a democratic society — an important step in becoming productive citizens and not returning to prison.
We will soon be sending a second action alert listing Senators whose stand on voting rights restoration is uncertain. Making contacts with them will be especially needed. Thanks for all your help!
Sam Merrill, Clerk, Legislative Committee Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy