March , 2019

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(From The Sentencing Project)


Governor restores voting rights of more than 5,100 people

In the past year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has restored voting rights to 5,113 people, a record for a governor’s first year in office. In order to accelerate the restoration process, the administration has reduced the waiting period before applying for people convicted of violent crimes from five years to three, and removed drug crimes from the list of felony offenses that require a waiting period. (Non-violent felony offenses do not require a waiting period before one can apply for restoration of voting rights.)

Of the 5,113 people whose rights were restored, 3,577 have already registered to vote. McAuliffe says, “By providing Virginia’s former offenders with a second chance, we can reduce recidivism, increase participation in our democratic processes, and build a new Virginia economy.”


Task force fails to fix problems with database of ineligible voters

Errors within Iowa’s database of ineligible voters with felony convictions have disenfranchised at least a dozen people who were incorrectly reported as having a felony conviction by court officials, or had their rights restored under former Governor Vilsack. A task force was created last April by Secretary Matt Schultz to address this problem. The task force met once in August and disbanded without finding a permanent solution to the problem.


Minnesota Conversations: Felony Voting

Hosted by Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, this half-hour program looks at Minnesota’s felony disenfranchisement laws, their disproportionate impact on communities of color, and how felony disenfranchisement laws vary by state.


State legislators and advocates propose automatic rights restoration

Senator Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, recently proposed a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights for some of the 1.3 million disenfranchised Floridians who have completed their felony sentence and are living in the community. The voting rights measure (SJR 208) is for consideration during the 2015 legislative session, which begins in March.

Grassroots efforts continue by the ACLU, NAACP, and the League of Women Voters to gather the 683,000 signatures needed by February 1, 2016 to place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot. The proposed ballot initiative would automatically restore voting rights for people convicted of a felony offense, excluding homicide and sexual offenses, upon completion of their prison, probation, and parole sentence.


Bi-partisan support for voting rights bills in General Assembly

Five pre-filled bills in the Kentucky General Assembly, sponsored by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, propose a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for most people convicted of a felony offense.

Similar legislation, House Bill 70 in 2014, has passed the House legislature each year since 2007, but each year the bill has died in the Senate. In 2014, the bill received special attention after U.S. Senator Rand Paul testified in favor of the bill at the State Government Committee. However, the bill died after state Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer amended the bill to include a five-year waiting period before applying for restoration, which the House refused to accept.

Senator Paul continues to urge the General Assembly to pass a constitutional amendment saying, “Restoring voting rights for those who have repaid their debt to society is simply the right thing to do.”


Nigerian court upholds the right of citizens in prison to vote in all elections

A Federal High Court in Nigeria has recently ruled that all incarcerated people have the right to vote in all elections throughout the country, and that any act “to deny inmates the right to vote is unconstitutional, illegal, irregular, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.” The judge gave orders to the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Prisons Service to update the National registry of voters to include names of citizens in prison.

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