Stripping convicted felons of the right to vote is a slap at America’s democratic ideals. Many states are backing away from this policy, understanding that voting rights are basic human rights that should be abridged only in the rarest circumstances. That lesson has yet to penetrate the state of Washington, which has created a form of disenfranchisement that is straight out of Oliver Twist.

Adam Liptak’s recent article introduced us to a disabled woman named Beverly Dubois who lost the right to vote because she could not pay $1,600 of charges that were assessed in connection with her marijuana conviction. Dubois, who served nine months in jail, has paid her debt. But until she settles the one to the state, she is stripped of her rights as a citizen. Disabled in a car mishap, she can se-nd in only $10 per month. At that rate, she is likely to die before paying off the debt.

Several states marginalise ex-offenders by saddling them with unfair fines that are supposed to pay for public defenders, drug tests and other services. Washington leads in dunning impoverished offenders. People who commit crimes are even charged for having their DNA registered in the offender database. Washington’s policy of stripping people of their right to vote until they can cough up enough money to pay these unfair charges is morally outrageous.