OCTOBER 17, 2008
Although Washington State invested in a multimillion-dollar computer system designed to catch and cancel illegal voters, the state will send ballots to nearly 24,000 convicted felons that are ineligible to cast ballots.
A Seattle news outlet conducted an investigation of the ballots by double checking the state’s work and found that its system was purposely set up to ignore approximately 24,000 convicted felons who cannot vote. Election sources told investigators that the computer system was intentionally programmed to ignore a certain subset of felony data.
Like most of the nation’s states, Washington has a law that bans convicted felons from voting until they meet all of their court ordered conditions, including the completion of prison sentences and restitution. The felon must then get a judge to sign an order of discharge or restoration of civil rights.
Washington’s top election official, Secretary of State Sam Reed, downplayed the felon lapse by highlighting the fact that his office has purged 40,000 ineligible voters off the rolls in the last two years. Among them were dead, duplicate, underage and non citizen voters.
Just a few days ago a Florida newspaper revealed that the Sunshine State, still remembered for the 2000 presidential election “hanging chad” debacle, has more than 30,000 ineligible felons registered to vote in the upcoming election. Florida’s secretary of state admits he has no idea how many ineligible felons may be on the state’s rolls and attributes the problem to a shortage of workers in his department.
With the exception of Maine and Vermont, every U.S. state has a law banning felons from voting. Thirty five states prohibit felons from casting ballots while they are on parole and 30 exclude felony probationers.
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