New Washington Poll Finds Strong Bipartisan Support for H.B. 1078, Restoring Voting Eligibility to People Returning from Prison

More than 8 in 10 Washington voters believe formerly incarcerated people should have their voting eligibility restored.

Today, voting advocacy organization Secure Democracy released new polling by research firm Myers Research demonstrating widespread public support for restoring voter eligibility to Washingtonians who have returned home from prison.

The survey also found that H.B. 1078 is wildly popular across the political spectrum, with support among Washingtonians from across the state and of all backgrounds.

The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Tarra Simmons, would create a pathway to the polls for the more than 20,000 citizens in Washington who have served their time in prison but are currently unable to vote. If enacted, H.B. 1078 would restore voting eligibility to any person with a felony conviction as soon as they are no longer incarcerated and have returned to the community.

Provisions in the bill received broad support from 87% of Washington voters. The bill passed the Washington House of Representatives on Feb. 24, 2021, cleared the Senate Committee on State Government and Elections, and now awaits floor action in the Senate.

“Washington voters have spoken: Washingtonians who have served their time in prison deserve to have a voice in our democracy,” said Sarah Walker, executive director of Secure Democracy. “The tens of thousands of Washington citizens that have been released from prison are raising families, holding jobs, paying taxes, and making valuable contributions to the state. Restoring their voting eligibility is not just the fair thing to do — it’s good for public safety and good for our communities.”

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • Support for the provisions in HB 1078 are nearly universal among all Washingtonians statewide — regardless of political affiliation, geography, and demography. 87% of all voters support, including 96% of Democratic voters support, 82% of independent voters support, 80% of Republican voters support.
  • Support for restoring voting eligibility runs deep. 62% of all voters strongly support restoring voting eligibility.
  • Support for voting restoration falls steeply with the addition of carve outs.
    • 83% of all voters support restoration of voting eligibility for anyone who has finished serving their time.
    • Only 56% of voters support restoration of voting eligibility after full payment of legal fees.
    • Only 40% of voters support creating a multi-tiered system in which only certain people with felony convictions can vote.
  • Voters believe HB 1078 would make the criminal justice system more fair. 84% of all voters agree.
  • Voters believe HB 1078 would lead to less crime. 71% of all voters agree.
  • Washingtonians believe the state should be focussing on rehabilitation over punishment. 71% of all voters agree, 46% feel strongly.

“As someone who went from serving my sentence to serving the people of Washington as a state representative, this bill is very personal to me,” said Rep. Tarra Simmons, sponsor of H.B. 1078. “These polling results show that it is incredibly popular and well supported throughout the state. It is time for the Legislature to ensure every citizen who has completed their sentence is welcomed home with dignity and given the right to participate in our democracy.”

Commissioned by Secure Democracy, the survey of 786 registered voters in Washington state was administered from March 10 through March 14, 2021, via live callers to both landlines and cell phones. The full analysis from Myers Research can be found here.

Secure Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to improve election integrity across the United States. They educate policymakers and the public about what it takes to safeguard our voting systems. They collaborate with state leaders, election administrators, election integrity experts, and allies to ensure that all eligible citizens have the freedom to vote how they choose.



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