Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Have a felony? Homeless? You could still vote in Washington state

SEATTLE – With less than three weeks until Election Day, you still have time to register to vote in-person.

There’s a big effort this year to reach two populations who may not think they can cast a ballot.

People with felony convictions and people who are homeless can still have the right to vote in our state.  King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation donated $460,000 to 33 organizations to increase voter engagement.

UrbVote plans to get out the vote with its vibrant and passionate leader Chukundi Salisbury at the helm. Equipped with a tablet and message Chukundi and others meet people where they’re at. You can see their stops on their Instagram page at barber shops, concerts, and other social events.

Outreach efforts to get people registered to vote partially funded a $10,000 grant from King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation.

King County Elections is ready to scan ballots from people with criminal pasts like felony convictions.

“As long as you are not under the supervision of the department of corrections or basically incarcerated. You’re eligible to vote. Your rights are automatically restored here,” said King County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson.

Washington state’s law challenges conventional thinking.

“There’s a national feeling that if you’re a felon that you can’t vote,” Salisbury said.

But in Washington state, once you’re not under corrections supervision, you can re-register and vote.

“When did you get off of supervision," Salisbury asked. "He said, man I haven’t been in trouble in 10 years.  I said well you can vote then! Just that look that came over him.  Just his whole energy. It’s like he kind of won the lottery or something.”

The right to vote in Washington state includes another vulnerable population: people experiencing homelessness.

“Tons of homeless folks are elated when they find out they can in fact vote,” Salisbury said.

According to Hodson, you don’t need an exact address to register.

“We ask for some type of cross street if we don’t have an address to kind of consider your primary area to reside in and that’s what we’ll use to figure out your precinct,” Hodson said.

The county can mail your ballot to social services sites like shelters or general delivery at the post office.

“No matter what’s going on or where you are, you should have that opportunity,” Hodson said.

But the push to register people who may not realize they’re eligible, will soon turn into the push to get people to follow through and vote.

“We’re going to be texting people, calling, phone banking," Salisbury said. "Reminding people to vote because you know registering is not enough, right?”

Along with UrbVote, grants to increase voter engagement were given to organizations support the LGBT, refugees, immigrants, and other minority groups.