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Posts tagged: 9th u.s. circuit court of appeals

9th Circuit reverses felon voting order

OLYMPIA— Inmates in Washington state prisons don’t have a constitutional right to vote in elections, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

Washington doesn’t allow felons to vote unless they have their rights restored, and attorneys argued that’s discriminatory against minorities, whose percentage of the prison population is greater than the population in general.

A federal trial court agreed there is discrimination in the state’s criminal justice system.

But the federal appeals court said today that’s not a violation of the Voting Rights Act. There’s no evidence that the law requiring felons to get their rights back before voting was enacted with the goal of disenfranchising minorities.

In fact, laws in Washington denying the vote to felons go back to 1866, while the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

9th Circ: WA felons can’t register yet

OLYMPIA — Voter registration drives may as well skip the state prisons for now. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary hold on its order that felons should be able to vote in Washington, even if they are in prison.

The Appeals Court today granted a request for a stay from state officials while Washington asks the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will grant certiorari.

Earlier this month, the Appeals Court ruled 2-1 that the disproportionate number of minorities in prison in Washington amounts to automatic disenfranchisement and violates the federal Voting Rights Act. State officials were quick to say they would appeal, and most other states, which also bar convicted felons from voting unless they get their rights restored, are watching the case closely.

The stay lasts until the Supreme Court either hears the case and rules, or two weeks after it says it won’t consider the case.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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