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Washington governor signs bill restoring voting rights after prison release

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that will automatically restore the voting rights of people convicted of a felony once they are released from prison, even if they are still under community supervision.

(CNN)Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that will automatically restore the voting rights of people convicted of a felony once they are released from prison, even if they are still under community supervision.

The law, which takes effect next year, will restore voting rights to more than 20,000 people in the state, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Currently, people with felonies in the state can only have their voting rights restored after finishing the conditions of their sentence.

"While other states are restricting the right to vote, I'm glad that in Washington, we are expanding access to democracy," Inslee said before signing the bill.

The new law makes Washington one of a few Democratic states that have moved to expand voting access in stark contrast to the Republican rush in statehouses across the country to make voting more difficult.

Texas, Arizona and Georgia -- states that are competitive in presidential elections, but where Republicans have full control of statehouses -- have seen the largest numbers of restrictive bills introduced, according to the Brennan Center.

The Washington state Legislature approved the measure despite Republicans' objections to restoring the voting rights of those who are on parole or probation.

"Regaining the right to vote, after having lost so many things, meant more to me than most people could imagine," she said in a statement after the bill was signed.

"This is a good day for democracy in Washington state," the governor said.

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