Florida Restored Voting Rights to Felons … Is Iowa Next?

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Civil rights advocates say this could be the year Iowa felons get their voting rights back.

Iowa is now only one of two states that ban felons from voting. Florida recently changed its laws to allow offenders to vote again and advocates hope Iowa follows suit.

"Iowa is the leader in a whole range of civil rights issues and in this case Iowa is not. This is the chance to make that different and to make that better," says ALCU of Iowa Policy Director, Daniel Zeno .

The Public Safety Advisory Board spent Wednesday drafting a proposal to lawmakers recommending them to take action to restore felons voting rights. Advocates helped to fine tune the proposals wording saying it could determine if lawmakers take the issue seriously this session.

"Making sure we start strong really helps because it gives direction and sends the message that we really believe this, and it sends the message that it's time," says Betty Andrews, President Iowa and Nebraska's NAACP branch.

In 2005, felons were automatically restored voting rights after an executive order signed by former Governor Vilsak. However, Governor Branstad took away that power and replaced it with a case - by - case system if a felon were to apply.

According to the Governor Reynold's office, it has not denied any felons request for restoration of voting rights and has restored the rights of 88 felons. It adds, for those who have submitted incomplete applications, it is working with the individuals to gather the proper information so the application process can be approved.