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Originally published May 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 5, 2009 at 1:33 AM

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Gregoire signs bill to restore voting rights for some felons

Starting this summer, convicted felons in Washington state will be able to reregister to vote once they're no longer on parole or probation.

OLYMPIA — Starting this summer, felons will be able to reregister to vote once they're no longer on parole or probation.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill Monday that eases the restoration of voting rights for felons who are no longer in state custody but owe court-ordered fines and restitution. It takes effect July 26.

The old law said felons couldn't vote until they'd completed their entire sentence, including paying all restitution and other court fees.

The new law removes the requirement that felons pay off all those debts before their rights are restored. However, their voting rights could be revoked if a felon willingly fails to make regular payments on those financial obligations.

Rep. Jeannie Darneille, the Tacoma Democrat who sponsored the measure, said the new law will "help someone who's been an ex-offender to reintegrate fully into society."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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