Voting Rights

Voting Rights

Under Washington law, the right to vote is lost whenever a person is convicted of a felony offense. This right, however, may be restored. Two methods exist to restore the right to vote; provisional restoration, and permanent restoration.The requirements, and distinctions, for each are described under state law. This law is stated below in its entirety.

RCW 29A.08.520

(1) For a felony conviction in a Washington state court, the right to vote is provisionally restored as long as the person is not under the authority of the department of corrections. For a felony conviction in a federal court or any state court other than a Washington state court, the right to vote is restored as long as the person is no longer incarcerated.

(2) (a) Once the right to vote has been provisionally restored, the sentencing court may revoke the provisional restoration of voting rights if the sentencing court determines that a person has willfully failed to comply with the terms of his or her order to pay legal financial obligations.

(b) If the person has failed to make three payments in a twelve-month period and the county clerk or restitution recipient requests, the prosecutor shall seek revocation of the provisional restoration of voting rights from the court.

(c) To the extent practicable, the prosecutor and county clerk shall inform a restitution recipient of the recipient's right to ask for the revocation of the provisional restoration of voting rights.

(3) If the court revokes the provisional restoration of voting rights, the revocation shall remain in effect until, upon motion by the person whose provisional voting rights have been revoked, the person shows that he or she has made a good faith effort to pay as defined in RCW 10.82.090.

(4) The county clerk shall enter into a database maintained by the administrator for the courts the names of all persons whose provisional voting rights have been revoked, and update the database for any person whose voting rights have subsequently been restored pursuant to subsection (6) of this section.

(5) At least twice a year, the secretary of state shall compare the list of registered voters to a list of felons who are not eligible to vote as provided in subsections (1) and (3) of this section. If a registered voter is not eligible to vote as provided in this section, the secretary of state or county auditor shall confirm the match through a date of birth comparison and suspend the voter registration from the official state voter registration list. The secretary of state or county auditor shall send to the person at his or her last known voter registration address and at the department of corrections, if the person is under the authority of the department, a notice of the proposed cancellation and an explanation of the requirements for provisionally and permanently restoring the right to vote and reregistering. To the extent possible, the secretary of state shall time the comparison required by this subsection to allow notice and cancellation of voting rights for ineligible voters prior to a primary or general election.

(6) The right to vote may be permanently restored by one of the following for each felony conviction:

(a) A certificate of discharge issued by the sentencing court, as provided in RCW 9.94A.637;

(b) A court order restoring the right, as provided in RCW 9.92.066;

(c) A final order of discharge issued by the indeterminate sentence review board, as provided in RCW 9.96.050; or

(d) A certificate of restoration issued by the governor, as provided in RCW 9.96.020.

(7) For the purposes of this section, a person is under the authority of the department of corrections if the person is:

(a) Serving a sentence of confinement in the custody of the department of corrections; or

(b) Subject to community custody as defined in RCW 9.94A.030.

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