Release via our partners at the WA Voting Rights Restoration Coalition
Players Coalition, Former Seahawks Support Voting Rights Restoration Bill
House Bill 1078 would restore voting rights to over 20,000 Washingtonians
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Today, the Players Coalition announced its support of House Bill 1078, which would restore voting rights to over 20,000 Washingtonians. Under Washington’s current law, people impacted by the criminal legal system are barred from voting for the months or years that they are under DOC community supervision. This support is through the Players Coalition 501(c)(4); the PC Advocacy Initiative.
After years of work supporting voting rights restoration efforts in states like Florida and California, the Players Coalition is ready to bring the fight to Washington. Former Seahawks players Doug Baldwin and Jordan Babineaux are calling on our representatives to pass House Bill 1078, which is likely to be brought to a House floor vote this week.
“The idea of democracy can not be fully realized until those who are most impacted by its systems are allowed to participate in that democracy,” said Baldwin. “Thousands of our neighbors lose their voting rights when they come home — sometimes for the rest of their lives. It’s time we change that and fulfill the promise of democracy.”
Baldwin and other members of the Players Coalition believe that criminal legal reform and voting justice reforms are essential parts of our progress towards racial justice. Like historical restrictions on voting like poll taxes and literacy tests, Washington’s current policy disproportionately harms Black and Indigenous Washingtonians. According to the Department of Corrections, though Black and Indigenous people make up only 6% of the total state population, they comprise over 16% of people in our communities who have lost their voting rights.
In addition to the racial justice benefits, research has shown that when people are invested in their communities through voting, they are less likely to return to the system. Babineaux, who became involved with local advocacy groups for formerly incarcerated people after his Seahawks career, has seen how civic engagement can aid in reentry.
“Through my work with groups like What’s Next Washington, I have heard many stories from people who have to struggle far too much to overcome the barriers they face when reentering their communities,” said Babineaux. “They are living at home, paying taxes, and working in their neighborhoods just like anyone else. They should also have their voices heard in the decisions that affect their lives.”
With this endorsement, the Players Coalition joins the wide variety of parties that support voting rights restoration here in Washington, including the Department of Corrections, survivor advocacy groups, county auditors, judges, law enforcement, criminal justice experts, and directly-impacted activists. As testifiers shared in the public hearing of the bill, restoring voting rights as soon as people return to their communities would strengthen our democracy, advance racial justice, and promote public safety.
Players Coalition members successfully advocated for voting rights restoration in Florida in 2018 and in California this past fall. With the passage of HB 1078, Washington could follow in the footsteps of the 20 other states plus Washington D.C. that already allow all citizens released from incarceration and living in their communities to vote. A notable recent addition is California, where almost 60% of voters passed Prop 17 this past fall, immediately restoring voting rights to people on parole.
House Bill 1078 is a bipartisan-sponsored bill whose main sponsor, Rep. Tarra Simmons, is believed to be the first formerly incarcerated state legislator in the nation. The Washington state House is likely to bring the bill to a floor vote this week.
About the Players Coalition
Players Coalition is an independent 501(c)(3) (charity) and PC Advocacy Initiative 501(c)(4) (advocacy) organization, working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country.
About the WA Voting Rights Restoration Coalition
The Washington State Voting Rights Restoration Coalition is a community of people and organizations who are seeking justice for our families and neighbors impacted by our criminal legal system. We are a coalition that supports the restoration of voting rights to those formerly incarcerated in order to support their successful reintegration into our community. Our priorities align with our core values and thus we are committed to supporting legislation that aligns with our collective values of humanity, empowerment, racial equity, inclusion, and a free democracy.
Contact: LaVendrick Smith and Abigail Leong | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com