Washington State Prisoners Allowed To Vote, Ruling Decrees
January 12, 2010 by Special To Personal Liberty
A federal appeals court in the state of Washington ruled last week that incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote because the current law violates the Voter Rights Act by discriminating against minorities.
The lawsuit, brought forth by six minority convicts, argued that because nonwhites make up the majority of the incarcerated population, barring them from voting is an act of racial prejudice, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Judge A. Wallace Tashima stated that the lawsuit "demonstrated that police practices, searches, arrests, detention practices and plea-bargaining practices lead to a greater burden on minorities that cannot be explained in race-neutral ways," quoted by USA Today.
The ruling, which was approved by a 2-1 majority, may have an effect on voting regulations nationwide.
"They are issues that permeate the justice system and are relevant in every state," said Marc Mauer, director of the Sentencing Project, a prison reform group, according to the AP.
State Attorney General Rob McKenna said he would appeal the ruling, either to a larger circuit panel or directly to the Supreme Court. Currently only Vermont and Maine allow prison inmates to vote.