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McKenna, Reed to ask US Supreme Court to take felon voter case

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

The 9th Circuit 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 US 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 US 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 US 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 US Supreme Court, known as a petition for certiorari, must be filed within 90 day.

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.

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