Voting Rights Restoration

In Washington, you have the right to vote even with a criminal record (RCW 29A.08.520):

  • You maintain the right to vote with a misdemeanor conviction, or a conviction in juvenile court, even if you are still in jail.
  • Citizens with felony convictions have their right to vote restored automatically when they come out of the criminal justice system.
  • Individuals can register to vote once they are no longer under state-supervised parole or probations.
  • You may register to vote if you have existing court-ordered legal financial obligations (LFOs), such as fines, fees, and restitution. If you do not comply with all the terms of your LFO, you may lose your right to vote.

Background on Felony Convictions and the Right to Vote

In 2009, the state legislature passed a law automatically restoring the right to vote for individuals convicted of felonies once they've completed their time in prison and are no longer under the supervision of the Department of Corrections (DOC).

If you don't know whether you're in community custody, you can call and ask DOC at 800.430.9674, Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm or contact them here. Individuals convicted in another state or federal court have their right to vote automatically restored once they're no longer in prison.

Like any other voter, individuals having their right to vote restored must register in order to vote.


Screening of Ineligible Individuals with Felony Convictions

DOC and the Administrative Office of the Courts provide the Washington Secretary of State's Office with lists of individuals with felony convictions who are ineligible to vote. Three times a year, the Secretary of State uses that information to screen the statewide list of registered voters for ineligible felons.

If an individual is registered to vote but ineligible because they're serving a felony conviction or under the supervision of DOC, the Secretary of State's office will send a letter explaining that the registration will be cancelled in 30 days. The letter provides information on how to dispute the pending cancellation by contacting their county elections office.

If the individual doesn't dispute the cancellation, the Secretary of State's Office will automatically cancel their voter registration after 30 days. An individual whose registration is cancelled as a result of a felony conviction may register to vote once they are no longer under the supervision of DOC and their right to vote is restored.        


Related links

Voting Rights Restoration Picture