“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.
Republican lawmakers have introduced 361 restrictive bills in a different set of 47 states. Texas, Arizona and Georgia — states that are competitive in presidential elections, but where Republicans have full control of statehouses — have seen the largest numbers of restrictive bills introduced, according to the Brennan Center.
The Washington state Legislature approved the measure despite Republicans’ objections to restoring the voting rights of those who are on parole or probation.
Wednesday’s bill was sponsored by state Rep. Tarra Simmons, who has a past conviction herself.
“Regaining the right to vote, after having lost so many things, meant more to me than most people could imagine,” she said in a statement after the bill was signed.
“This might seem a small thing to some people, but it’s a giant step for civil rights and it’s one that will give others what it gave me: a belief that I mattered, that I was once again a member of society, and that my freedom was worth preserving at all costs.”
“This is a good day for democracy in Washington state,” the governor said.
CNN’s Eric Bradner and Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.