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.
Sam Reed: "We believe the loss of voting rights is really a reasonable and appropriate sanction for society to demand of felons while they are behind bars or on community supervision. Just I think very sound public policy."
But attorney Dale Ho with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund alleges the felon voting ban violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because the policy disproportionately affects African-Americans.
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