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A ballot in a drive-up drop box in Renton, Washington state. Photo:y Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Washington state's Senate on Wednesday night passed a bill to automatically restore voting rights for people who are on parole and probation.

Why it matters: The legislation, which will go to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to be signed into law, essentially ensures that every Washington citizen who's not incarcerated can vote.

Of note: Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, said in a statement that the move was "a step towards racial justice in voting."

  • "Due to the racial disparities in the state’s criminal justice system, Washington’s Black residents are four times more likely than others to be disenfranchised," Morales-Doyle said.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

McConnell claims "states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed during a hearing Wednesday that Democrats' signature voting rights bill, the "For the People Act," is unnecessary because "states are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever."

Reality check: Republican lawmakers across the country are trying to pass measures to make it more difficult to vote by limiting mail-in ballots, implementing new voter ID requirements and slashing registration options.

Updated Mar 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia becomes first Southern state to abolish death penalty

Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia officially became the first Southern state and 23rd state nationwide to end capital punishment, after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Virginia has executed nearly 1,400 people since its days as a colony, more than any other state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.