Group Claims Not Enough Done to Help WA Jail Inmates Vote
At first glance, most people think of felons who've lost their voting rights when it comes to jail inmates. But according to a disability group, many inmates in county jails are not being allowed to vote.
Disability Rights Washington claims few of the state's 38 county jails have procedures in place to allow inmates to vote, and those who do, rarely follow them.
The group says inmates in county jails are mostly charged or serving time with misdemeanors, which don't strip away voting rights.
The group compares jail inmates to those who suffer from disabilities or other sickness or medical conditions that prevent them from leaving home, especially when it comes to accessing voting opportunities. The group says many people in jail have disabilities.
One of the obstacles, say officials, is if a jail inmate is a registered voter, their mail to their residence will not be forwarded to the jail, unless they are there for a lengthy period of time and they have their mail forwarded there.
County and city voting officials send the mail in ballots to the most current or last known address of the registered voter.
The Disability group also did not discuss what percentage of county jail inmates are registered voters. The group has been invited to attend the next State Disability Advisory Committee meeting later this month.
In Eastern Washington, the group claims the only jail making exemplary strides to help inmates vote is the Spokane County jail. Two others on the West side were also singled out, the other 35, says the group, are deficient.