This month is National Voter Registration Month.
As Washingtonians who witnessed the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election know, every vote counts. That was the historic contest which resulted in two recounts and a nail-biting 129-vote margin of victory for now-Governor Chris Gregoire
Following the certification of that election, the state Republican Party filed suit seeking to reverse the outcome in the governor’s race. Because of extensive work we had done on voting rights issues, the ACLU took the unusual step of filing a friend-of-the-court brief in a trial court. The ACLU brief supported neither side in the case, but rather sought to inform the court about the extremely complicated and confusing nature of Washington’s re-enfranchisement procedures for people with felony convictions at the time.
Continuing our work, the ACLU for years urged the state legislature to pass a bill making the restoration of voting rights automatic upon the completion of incarceration and supervision by the state Department of Corrections. The legislature passed such a bill into law in 2009.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, many of the citizens affected by the new law may not be aware of it. We’re finding that many people with records are still uncertain as whether they can now register to vote.
That’s why the ACLU is working on educating Washington citizens about who is eligible to vote and how one can register to vote.
Are you working with a candidate or campaign in this election? Or does your organization serve people with records? Then you definitely should have the ACLU’s pamphlet on voting rights restoration in Washington. Still have questions? We’re happy to help: Call the ACLU at 206.624.2180.