Dispute over felons on voter rolls
October 16, 2008
It didn't take long for the news that 24,000 felons were on the voter rolls in Washington state to make national headlines. However, now there appears to be some dispute over those numbers, courtesy of the State Elections Director.
"Impossible to define"
Nick Handy, State Elections Director, said that the data used in the report by KIRO was unreliable. Their data, he said, did not take into account those who were convicted of lesser charges and felons who have had their rights restored.
The Director stated, "It's unreliable, it's inaccurate, and it's no basis on which the state should be taking a person's civil rights away." Yet, he admitted there is no way to know how many registered felons actually have the right to vote, saying, "The current description of who can't vote is an impossible group to define."
Washington state law holds that convicted felons are able to vote again after finishing their sentence and paying any court ordered fees.
A new voter database was launched in January 2006, which consolidated the voter rolls from all 39 counties. In doing so, some 450,000 registrations were removed because of duplicates, death, and ineligible felons. Of that number, 11,610 were felons. According to the KIRO report, some 24,000 felons remain.