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Every State, Every Vote: Democratic Govs in Kentucky and Washington Expand Voting Access Amidst Republican Attacks on Democracy
As Republicans continue their assault on democracy and attempt to limit access to the ballot box, Democratic governors are fighting back and expanding voting rights. Yesterday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law a bipartisan bill to expand no-excuse early voting, require ballot drop boxes in every county, and create an online portal to register for absentee voting.
Gov. Beshear said, “While some states have stepped in a different direction, I’m really proud of Kentucky. We created a model for the nation.”
At the same time, across the country, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill automatically restoring rights to people convicted of a felony once they’ve served their time, expanding voting access to 20,000 people.
After losing both the White House and the Senate in 2020, Republicans are waging a war on our democracy to roll back voting access – they have introduced over 361 bills in 47 states with the goal of stripping Americans of their constitutional right to cast a ballot in a free and fair election. Experts estimate their voter suppression proposals could create hurdles for tens of millions of Americans.
Read more about Gov. Inslee and Gov. Beshear’s expansion of voting rights below and learn more about how Democratic governors are fighting for free and fair elections at EveryStateEveryVote.com.
As Republicans in more than 40 states have pushed bills to restrict voting after former president Donald Trump’s November loss, a markedly different story played out in deep-red Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s GOP-dominated legislature instead passed a bipartisan bill last month to expand access to the ballot box.
On Wednesday, Kentucky’s Democratic governor signed the measure, which mandates three days of no-excuse early voting, ballot drop boxes in every county and an online portal to register for absentee voting, among other changes.
“Today is also a good day for democracy, a good day for elections,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at the signing ceremony.
Beshear also made a subtle dig at the GOP legislatures that have taken an opposite tack, saying, “While some states have stepped in a different direction, I’m really proud of Kentucky.”
Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bipartisan-supported bill into law on Wednesday that expanded voting access by codifying election recount procedures, online absentee ballot portals and early voting procedures — an exception to the GOP efforts nationwide to overhaul state election rules in the wake of the 2020 election.
“Today is also a good day for democracy, a good day for elections,” he said. “I want to start by talking about voting — about how when much of the country has put in more restrictive laws — that Kentucky legislators, Kentucky leaders were able to come together to stand up for democracy and to expand the opportunity for people to vote.”
The bill, HB 574, passed 91-3 in the state House and 33-3 in the state Senate before going to Beshear’s desk last week. Both chambers of the Kentucky Legislature are controlled by Republicans.
Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that will automatically restore the voting rights of people convicted of a felony once they are released from prison, even if they are still under community supervision.
The law, which takes effect next year, will restore voting rights to more than 20,000 people in the state, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Currently, people with felonies in the state can only have their voting rights restored after finishing the conditions of their sentence.
“While other states are restricting the right to vote, I’m glad that in Washington, we are expanding access to democracy,” Inslee said before signing the bill.
The new law makes Washington one of a few Democratic states that have moved to expand voting access in stark contrast to the Republican rush in statehouses across the country to make voting more difficult.
Associated Press: Gov. Inslee signs bill to restore voting rights to Washington parolees
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a bill automatically restoring voting rights to people who have been released from prison after committing felonies, even if they are still on parole — a measure sponsored by a lawmaker who was herself formerly incarcerated.
“While other states are restricting the right to vote, I’m glad that in Washington, we are expanding access to democracy,” Inslee said.