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WAC 434-324-106

Felony screening process.

(1) The law on when the right to vote is restored following a felony conviction is established in RCW 29A.08.520. Three times a year, the secretary must compare the voter registration records to lists of felons who are either incarcerated or on community supervision with the Washington state department of corrections, and to lists of felons convicted in federal district courts with a sentence of at least fifteen months incarceration. The secretary must create a list of felon voters by matching the first name, last name, date of birth, and other identifying information.
(2) For each felon voter, the secretary must change the voter's registration status to "pending cancellation." This change of status must be entered prior to the first extraction or pull of mail ballots. The official statewide voter registration database must automatically notify the county election management system of the change. Voters with pending cancellation status must not be issued a ballot.
(3) The secretary must mail a notification letter to each felon whose status is pending cancellation. The notification letter must be sent to the felon's last known registration mailing address and, if the person is incarcerated or on community supervision with the department of corrections, to the offender's department of corrections address indicating that his or her voter registration is about to be canceled. The letter must contain language notifying the felon that he or she must contact the auditor's office to contest the pending cancellation. The letter must also inform the felon that he or she may request a provisional ballot for any pending elections. The notification letter must include:
(a) An explanation that a felon loses the right to vote until the right is restored;
(b) For a conviction in a Washington state court, the right to vote is restored as long as the felon is not serving a sentence of confinement or subject to community custody with the department of corrections. For a conviction in another state or federal court, the right to vote is restored as long as the felon is no longer incarcerated;
(c) The reason the felon has been identified as ineligible to vote;
(d) An explanation that the felon's voter registration will be canceled due to the felony conviction; and
(e) How to contest the pending cancellation. The secretary must send to each auditor the voter registration and conviction information for each matched felon registered in that county.
(4) If the felon fails to contact the auditor within thirty days, the felon's voter registration must be canceled. If an election in which the felon would otherwise be eligible to vote is scheduled to occur during the thirty days, the felon must be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.
(5) The felon's eligibility status may be resolved and the pending cancellation status reversed without scheduling a hearing if the felon provides satisfactory documentation that the felon's voting rights have been restored, the conviction is not a felony, the person convicted is not the registered voter, or the felon is otherwise eligible to vote. The auditor must notify the voter, retain a scanned copy of all documentation provided, and notify the secretary. The secretary must flag the voter registration record to prevent future cancellation on the same basis.
(6) If the felon requests a hearing, the auditor must schedule a public hearing to provide the felon an opportunity to dispute the finding. In scheduling the hearing, the auditor may take into account whether an election in which the felon would otherwise be eligible to vote is scheduled. The notice must be mailed to the felon's last known registration mailing address and must be postmarked at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing date. Notice of the hearing must also be provided to the prosecuting attorney.
(7) The auditor must provide the prosecuting attorney a copy of all relevant registration and felony conviction information. The prosecuting attorney must obtain documentation, such as a copy of the judgment and sentence or custody or supervision information from the Washington department of corrections, the out-of-state court or prison, or the federal court or Bureau of Prisons, sufficient to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the felon is ineligible to vote. It is not necessary that the copy of the document be certified.
(8) If the prosecuting attorney is unable to obtain sufficient documentation to ascertain the felon's voting eligibility in time to hold a hearing prior to certification of an election in which the felon would otherwise be eligible to vote, the prosecuting attorney must request that the auditor dismiss the current cancellation proceedings. The auditor must reverse the voter's pending cancellation status, cancel the hearing, and notify the voter. A provisional ballot voted in the pending election must be counted if otherwise valid. The prosecuting attorney must continue to research the felon's voting eligibility. If the prosecuting attorney is unable to obtain sufficient documentation to ascertain the felon's voting eligibility prior to the next election in which the felon would otherwise be eligible to vote, the prosecuting attorney must notify the auditor. The auditor must notify the secretary, who must flag the voter registration record to prevent future cancellation on the same basis.
(9) A hearing to determine voting eligibility is an open public hearing pursuant to chapter 42.30 RCW. If the hearing occurs within thirty days before, or during the certification period of, an election in which the felon would otherwise be eligible to vote, the hearing must be conducted by the county canvassing board. If the hearing occurs at any other time, the county auditor conducts the hearing. Before a final determination is made that the felon is ineligible to vote, the prosecuting attorney must show by clear and convincing evidence that the voter is ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction. The felon must be provided a reasonable opportunity to respond. The hearing may be continued to a later date if continuance is likely to result in additional information regarding the felon's voting eligibility. If the felon is determined to be ineligible to vote due to felony conviction and lack of rights restoration, the voter registration must be canceled. If the voter is determined to be eligible to vote, the voter's pending cancellation status must be reversed and the secretary must flag the voter registration record to prevent future cancellation on the same basis. The felon must be notified of the outcome of the hearing and the final determination is subject to judicial review pursuant to chapter 34.05 RCW.
(10) If the felon's voter registration is canceled after the felon fails to contact the auditor within the thirty day period, the felon may contact the auditor at a later date to request a hearing to dispute the cancellation. The auditor must schedule a hearing in substantially the same manner as provided in subsections (6) through (9) of this section.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.04.620, and 29A.04.630. WSR 11-24-064, § 434-324-106, filed 12/6/11, effective 1/6/12. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. WSR 10-03-072, § 434-324-106, filed 1/18/10, effective 2/18/10; WSR 09-18-098, § 434-324-106, filed 9/1/09, effective 10/2/09; WSR 06-23-094, § 434-324-106, filed 11/15/06, effective 12/16/06; WSR 05-24-039, § 434-324-106, filed 11/30/05, effective 12/31/05.]
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