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On its face, Farakkhan v. Gregoire is about whether felons have the right to vote. But it's really about institutionalized racism: namely whether Washington's criminal justice system treats minorities unfairly.
Washington prohibits prison inmates and former inmates on probation from voting. Secretary of State Sam Reed says the ban goes back to when Washington was a territory and notes 47 other states have some form of felon voter disenfranchisement.
Shelby County's challenge to theconstitutionality of portions of the Voting Rights Act got on a faster legal track Thursday when a federal judge in Washington denied a government request for more fact-finding.
The Justice Department recently approved Georgia's voter verification law, which requires voters to prove they are U.S. citizens. Federal officials had blocked the law since 2008 but accepted the policy last month.