Appeals court ruling could impact felon voting rightsA federal appeals court ruling in Washington State this week will likely fuel support for expanding voting rights to felons in Wisconsin.
By: Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A federal appeals court ruling in Washington State this week will likely fuel support for expanding voting rights to felons in Wisconsin.
The ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals throws out a Washington state law that prohibits felons both in and out of prison from voting. The ruling found the law violates the federal voting rights act because it discriminates against African Americans.
Wisconsin state representative Joe Parisi of Monona is now co-sponsoring a bill that would grant voting rights to felons as soon as they leave prison. He says the Washington state ruling reinforces the argument he is making in support of expanding voting rights. He says the Washington court decision adds to the argument to repeal Wisconsin’s law and allow people to vote after they’ve been released from prison.
Federal courts in the northeast and the south have rejected the racial bias argument and upheld laws denying voting rights to felons. UW Law School professor Linda Greene says the Washington ruling could prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue.
The most recent statistics indicate African-Americans are incarcerated at a much higher rate than whites. It was that statistic that prompted the appeals court in Washington to rule against restrictions on felon voting rights.