Appeals Court Cites Race In Allowing WA Prisoners To Vote

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A federal appeals court has tossed out Washington state’s law banning incarcerated felons from voting, finding the state’s criminal-justice system is “infected” with racial discrimination, reports the Seattle Times. The 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the law violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act by disenfranchising minority voters.

The decision is the first in a federal appeals court to equate a prohibition against voting by incarcerated felons with practices outlawed under the federal Voting Rights Act, such as poll taxes or literacy tests. Judge A. Wallace Tashima said studies “speak to a durable, sustained indifference in treatment faced by minorities in Washington’s criminal justice system – systemic disparities which cannot be explained by ‘factors independent of race.’ “

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