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Q: Felons that register to vote ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: Felons that register to vote
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: tarzan7-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 23 Aug 2006 10:56 PDT
Expires: 22 Sep 2006 10:56 PDT
Question ID: 758779
How does the government find out if a convicted felon is registered to
vote? (I understand there's a penalty for such a transgression and I'm
wondering how such a crime is discovered.)
Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
Answered By: cynthia-ga on 23 Aug 2006 14:11 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi tarzan7,

I live in Seattle and helped a friend of mine get her voting rights
restored. She had voted for years, assuming that her rights had been
restored, and after the Governor fiasco in 2004, she decided to find
out if she was in fact voting legally.

The ACLU helps people determine the status of their voting rights
--for free, any citizen that asks!

To answer your question...

In Washington State there is no system in place that automatically
checks or cross references voters and felons. Someone must think to,
and WANT TO do it, --they must request records, search public records
of the voting rolls and of felons. Even then, EACH felon's record
would have to be looked at by hand to determine if the state sent in
the required form to determine which felons have NOT had their rights

If the state didn't send in the form, it's possible that someone with
their rights 'restored' could be falsely accused of improper/illegal
voting, when in fact they have earned the right back by completing
their sentence including all parole/probation and paying all

This actually happened during the last Governor's Race.


GOP seeks criminal records
..."Republicans want a copy of the state's criminal-records database
to compare it with the names of the nearly 3 million people who voted
in the governor's race, as party attorneys search for felons who cast
illegal ballots.

Yesterday, attorneys for Dino Rossi and the Republican Party asked the
State Patrol for an electronic copy of that database, the Washington
State Identification System. The list contains more than 1.2 million
records. Republicans are hoping to do a quicker and less expensive
search than what is available to the general public.

The records include names, birth dates, charges and outcomes of the
cases, including felonies and some misdemeanors. Republicans are
looking for felons because felons are not allowed to vote unless their
voting rights have been restored..."

Ant this article:

GOP's request for criminal list raises concern
...""This is public information, available on our Web site," DeVere said. 

DeVere said Republicans originally requested background checks on
800,000 people He referred them to the Web site, but DeVere said the
GOP balked at the $10 per person background-check fee...."

[  ..they are referring to this public database: 

WSP Watch ($10 per person lookup)

...and checking it against the public voter database here: 

Washington State Voter Database   (free lookup)    ]

...."Republicans said it was more a matter of having to enter
information for each person manually.

DeVere said the state will only release a list of those people with
felony convictions to Republicans

Julya Hampton, legal program director for the American Civil Liberties
Union of Washington, said her biggest concern is that the state
database is incomplete and inaccurate.

The list is not automatically updated in cases where people have had
their right to vote restored.

"The only way to verify someone who has had their right to vote
restored is to look at their court record," said Peter Schalestock,
legal coordinator for the Rossi Campaign and the state GOP. "We will
do that before we go to court. We will take every step possible to
ensure that the people we name are actually ineligible."  ..."

---Note the article states that out of 2.9 million Washington State
votes, 1.2 million Washington Residents have a criminal history. This
makes it virtually impossible to check, and the records are not
updated or maintained regularly. It took my friend a couple months
with the ACLU's help to find her records from the early 1980's and
determine whether the proper form had in fact been sent in. (It had!).

I hope this information is good news to you. If I can be of further
assistance, please don't hesitate to ask for clarification before
rating my answer.


Search method:
"Washington State" Felon voting OR voter discovery
"Washington State" Background Check WSP Watch
"Washington State" Voter Database

Clarification of Answer by cynthia-ga on 23 Aug 2006 14:14 PDT
Correction to my first line: ..."and helped a friend of mine get her
voting rights restored.."

I found out how she could determine if her rights HAD been restored
(The ACLU), --I didn't help her restore them, the proper form had
actually been sent to the State of WA in the early 1980's.

Clarification of Answer by cynthia-ga on 23 Aug 2006 14:21 PDT
As an aftertought, I want to include this link:

737 Illegal Votes
..."Republicans have discovered and verified 737 illegal votes in
Washington's ultra-close governor's election, state party leaders said

Vance said Wednesday that Republicans determined the number of felons
who voted illegally by comparing voting rolls from the secretary of
state with a list of convicted felons from the State Patrol, and
checking each name to determine whether the person's voting rights had
been restored.

Vance said the 737 illegal votes broke down like this:

-186 felons in King County

-54 felons from elsewhere in the state

-44 people who died before absentee ballots were mailed

-10 who voted twice in Washington state

-6 who voted in Washington and another state

-437 provisional ballots that were illegally fed directly into voting
machines, as reported by King, Pierce and Stevens counties.

tarzan7-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks for the info and the links!

Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
From: pinkfreud-ga on 23 Aug 2006 11:36 PDT
In the United States, the voting privileges of felons are regulated by
state law. Which state are we speaking of?
Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
From: netpilot-ga on 23 Aug 2006 11:40 PDT
Felony convictions and voter registrations are public records.  Thus,
anyone can try to match up those records to identify felons.

In practice, the process is more complicated since it is necessary to
avoid false identifications, e.g. based on a match of common names. 
Some states have programs to weed out ineligible voters from voter
rolls using a mixture of public and non-public information (e.g. DMV
records, credit records, etc.)  Several private companies review voter
rolls on a contract basis for interested states.

Politically, not all states are very energetic in enforcing the ban on
felons voting.

The definition of felonies for voting purposes gets somewhat
complicated where inter-state situations are involved.  For example,
an act leading to a felony conviction in State A may not be a felony
in State B.
Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
From: tarzan7-ga on 23 Aug 2006 13:26 PDT
Washington state.
Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
From: qed100-ga on 23 Aug 2006 16:51 PDT
Hey Pink,

   That's interesting about state voting restrictions. Do states also
restrict people from voting in federal elections?
Subject: Re: Felons that register to vote
From: myoarin-ga on 28 Aug 2006 14:16 PDT
Voting for the president is still handled as a state election; remember Florida?

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