Have a criminal record? Find our if you can vote.
Our vote is our voice. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. The ACLU of Washington works to ensure the right to vote is not a privilege reserved for the wealthy few, but a right guaranteed to all, regardless of race, class, or gender. Below are answers to common questions about accessing this fundamental right.

This information is available in multiple languages below. 

What type of convictions could affect my voting rights?

  • A person may lose the right to vote when convicted of a felony in adult court. You do not lose you right to vote in Washington for a misdemeanor or juvenile conviction, even if you were incarcerated.

Can individuals convicted of felonies vote in Washington?

  • Yes!
    • If you were convicted of a felony in a Washington State adult court, your right to vote is automatically restored as soon as you are no longer under the authority of the Department of Corrections (DOC). This means that once you have completed any required incarceration and/or DOC community custody, your right to vote has been restored. If you have questions about your status with DOC, call 800-430-9674.
    • If you were convicted of a felony in another state or federal court, your right to vote is automatically restored once you are no longer in jail or prison.
    • Even if your right to vote has been restored, you likely still need to register to vote.  More below and at the Secretary of State.

The right to vote is restored even if you still owe court fines, restitution, or other legal financial obligations (LFOs).

  • You do not need to pay off your LFOs to vote. You are still legally obligated to pay all of your LFOs and to comply with the payment schedule. However, your right to vote is not automatically lost for failure to pay LFOs. You do not lose the right to vote for failure to pay LFOs unless a court determines that you have intentionally failed to pay your LFOs and the court issues an order revoking your right to vote.
  • If you have more questions about LFOs or have been notified that a court or prosecutor intends to revoke your right to vote for failure to pay your LFOs, please contact the ACLU Help Line at 206-624-2180 or submit a complaint through our website.

How do I find out if I am on or off DOC community custody?

  • The best way to know for certain if you are on community custody is to call the DOC. You can reach the DOC at 800-430-9674 on Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm. Ask if DOC has an “open” or “active” file on you. If they say No, you are eligible to register to vote. If they say Yes, ask for the name and phone number of your Community Corrections Officer’s (CCO) supervisor, and call the supervisor. Ask the supervisor if you are currently on community custody. If they say Yes, your right to vote is not restored until you are done with community custody.

Is there a document or place I need to check to confirm that my right to vote is restored?

  • No. There is no longer a document confirming restoration of the right to vote (in the past, a COD did this). There is also no list of persons whose right to vote has been restored. This is why it is important to double-check whether you are on DOC community custody or not. If you are no longer incarcerated and are not on DOC community custody, your voting rights are restored, and you are eligible to register to vote. You also do not need paperwork to prove that your right to vote has been restored.

Do I still need to register to vote?

  • Yes. While voting rights restoration is automatic, eligible individuals still need to register. Even if you registered to vote or voted before your felony conviction, you will likely need to re-register to vote. You can see whether you are registered to vote; register; update your voting information; and get more information about your ballot here.

There are many ways to register to vote.

Washington is a vote-by-mail state. You can register to vote by mail or in person. You can find all the relevant dates and deadlines for 2020 here.

If I have my voting rights, should I still try to get a certificate of discharge (COD)?

  • You do not need a certificate of discharge to register to vote. However, the restoration of voting rights does not mean that a COD has been entered in your case. Additionally, obtaining a COD has important benefits beyond restoring your right to vote. For example, if you want to vacate your felony criminal record for background check purposes, getting a COD “starts the clock” on a waiting period that must occur before you ask the court to vacate your records. If you have questions about vacating your conviction, please feel free to call the ACLU at 206-624-2180.

Can I lose the right to vote after it has been restored?

  • Yes. If you are convicted of another felony offense, you will lose the right to vote again until you have completed the new terms of incarceration and any new required period of community custody. A court or prosecutor may also threaten to revoke your right to vote for failure to pay LFOs. If you receive a notice that a court or prosecutor intends to revoke your right to vote for failure to pay your LFOs, please contact the ACLU Intake Line at 206-624-2180 or submit a complaint through our website.

What if I don’t think I understand the law?

  • Contact the ACLU. Call 206-624-2180 or email us from our website.

I still have questions about whether I can vote.

Check out our Vote Center. If you still have questions, please utilize the contacts below.
 

Contacts

Department of Corrections
800-430-9674

Secretary of State Elections Division
800-448-4881
Secretary of State on Voting Rights.

ACLU of Washington Intake Line
206-624-2180
Help Center
 
 

Voting Rights Restoration Flowcharts

Can I Vote Flowchart
내가 투표할 수 있겠습니까?
我可以投票吗?
Esquema puedo votar
Cod ma aan bixin karaa?
Maari ba akong bumoto?
Tôi có thể bỏ phiếu được không?
Sagalee kennuu danda’aa?
 هل استطيع التصويت في الانتخابات؟
https://www.aclu-wa.org/sites/default/files/styles/alt/public/media-images/panel-panes/panel_display_500x400_canivote.png?itok=5ZaPpYEy
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Have a criminal record? Download our voting rights restoration guide!