So far Florida is the only state to have done this – by voter demand in a referendum – and now some politicians there are still trying to make it difficult by enacting “regulations”. ALL states should restore voting rights to convicted felons, and the main reasons they do not want to are (a) most such folks are minorities and (b) those are the people who really know about the many rampant crimes being committed daily by prison staff, and they might demand accountability!
Excerpts from the Article:
Gov. Kim Reynolds will propose a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to convicted felons in a Condition of the State address that highlights “the beauty of grace” and second chances.
“Talk with someone who, by their own actions, hit rock bottom but decided to turn their life around,” Reynolds will say Tuesday, according to her prepared remarks, portions of which were shared exclusively with the Des Moines Register. “Watch their face light up when they tell you about the person who offered them a helping hand. … There are few things as powerful as the joy of someone who got a second chance and found their purpose.”
The felon voting proposal, if approved, would overturn a ban on felon voting Branstad enacted through executive order in 2011 and would further distance Reynolds from her predecessor and mentor. She told the Register that her first 17 months in office after taking over for Branstad in 2017 were “a balance” between carrying forward his agenda and establishing herself as Iowa’s chief executive.
Reynolds also will call for several other changes to Iowa’s criminal justice system in Tuesday’s address, including:
Asking lawmakers to pass legislation protecting employers from lawsuits if they hire Iowans with criminal records.
Calling for a constitutional amendment enshrining victims’ rights into the state’s constitution.
Announcing a new home-building program at the Newton Correctional Facility to provide training to inmates to build homes for low-income Iowans.
“I’m a recipient of second chances,” Reynolds told reporters recently, referencing her past drunken driving arrests and her battle with alcohol addiction. “I believe that people make mistakes and there’s opportunities to change, and that needs to be recognized. So it’s something that I’m passionate about.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states and Washington, D.C., automatically restore the voting rights of convicted felons or, as in Maine and Vermont, never take them away.
Iowa has one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on felon voting, permanently barring them from voting unless they successfully petition the governor or president to restore their rights. Only Kentucky shares a similar lifetime ban after Floridians voted in November to lift their state’s ban.
Lawmakers must approve legislation creating a constitutional amendment in two consecutive two-year general assemblies, and then Iowans must approve it in a statewide vote. If the measure is adopted, it could be reversed only through a second constitutional amendment.
Though advocates for criminal justice reform agree that a constitutional amendment is necessary and provides long-term protections from the whims of future Legislatures, they’ve also called on Reynolds to take immediate action through an executive order while the amendment moves through the yearslong process.