Thanksgiving in jail

Carol Guay, Walla Walla County Jail’s kitchen manager, loads apple filling into a Thanksgiving pie crust while inmate trustee Joseph Saucier keeps the mood light.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a bill restoring the right to vote for Washingtonians convicted of felonies automatically upon their release from incarceration.

Under House Bill 1078, roughly 20,000 people would regain their right to vote, according to the state Department of Corrections. The was sponsored by Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton.

“While other states are restricting their right to vote, I’m glad that in Washington here, we’re expanding our access to democracy,” said Inslee in a bill-signing event.

Before now, people with felonies didn’t necessarily have their voting rights restored upon leaving prison. Instead, they could regain voting rights after finishing the conditions of their sentence, such as community supervision terms, which can last for months or years.

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and the Yakima Herald-Republic. She can be reached at margauxmaxwell@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.