Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA…Attorney General Rob McKenna and Secretary of State Sam Reed announced today they will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision granting felons the right to vote in Washington.

The 9th Circuit yesterday in Farrakhan v. Gregoire applied the federal Voting Rights Act to Washington’s felon disenfranchisement law and overturned Washington law barring felons in prison and under community supervision from voting.

 “This case began back in 1996, it’s been to the 9th Circuit twice already and now it’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in to resolve the split between the federal courts of appeals that the 9th Circuit has created,” McKenna said. “The felon disenfranchisement laws of Washington and 47 other states hang in the balance.”

“The U.S. Constitution, the Washington Constitution and the laws of 47 other states all agree that felons may lose this important civil right when they violate the rights of others by committing egregious violations of the law,” Reed said. “I’m pleased the Attorney General will be taking this case to the U.S. Supreme Court and expect a positive outcome.”

The decision will not go into effect until the 9th Circuit issues its mandate on the case, which is not likely to occur for at least 14 days.

In the meantime, the Attorney General’s Office will file a motion to stay the mandate, which would prevent the Secretary of State and county auditors from having to devise new voting systems to accommodate incarcerated felons and would prevent felons in prison or under community supervision from exercising their right to vote until the matter has been decided by the US Supreme Court.

The request for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, known as a petition for certiorari, must be filed within 90 days. 

If the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the case, McKenna plans to argue it himself. He argued and won a similar felon voting case before the Washington Supreme Court in 2007.


Media Contacts:   Janelle Guthrie, AGO Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; Cell: (360) 584-3046
David Ammons, Secretary of State Communications Director, (360) 902-4140