Yesterday, Attorney General Rob McKenna told reporters the state plans to appeal Tuesday's Ninth Circuit felon voting decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Secretary of State Sam Reed joined the conference by phone to offer his support. The announcement received coverage from several major papers including the Tri-City Herald:
Tuesday's 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 2000 ruling of a district judge in Spokane. The appeals court says Washington state's felon disenfranchisement law violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that, because the state's criminal justice system is "infected" with racial discrimination, not allowing incarcerated felons to vote violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
McKenna says that's a misreading of the voting rights act. "The Voting Rights Act doesn't say you look at one subpopulation and analyze just that one part, such as the criminal justice system," he said.
McKenna contends the Voting Rights Act requires you to look at the broader community to see whether it has an ability to vote and participate in the political process. He says people who break the law and end up in prison deserve to lose rights such as voting.
For a full description of the story, see our press release.
Helen Gaia Thomas