Amendment Would Restore Voting Rights For Non-Violent Felons

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- One part of Gov. Reynold's Condition of the State speech that is being universally applauded is her call for a constitutional amendment to guarantee the restoration of voting rights for reformed felons.

Currently felons must apply to the governor to have their voting rights restored.

"When you get your life together and you see all the things that are going on, whether it's good or bad, and you can't even make a decision in any of it because you have a criminal history. I don’t think that's fair,” Nicole Baker said.

That rule was enacted by an order signed by former Gov. Branstad when he took office in 2011.

Governors Culver and Vilsack before him allowed for voting rights to be automatically restored when a felon had served their sentence.

Reynolds could follow their lead and act today to make that change.

However, she instead says she wants to amend the constitution.

“Prison time has been served, probation has been served, and perhaps a certain amount of time before a crime has been recommitted, that is something we can take a good look at," Republican State Rep. Steven Holt of Denison said.

The amendment would make felons wait at least four more years for the change to happen.

“I would like for her to do an executive action now for a temporary fix and then let’s pass some legislation to make it permanent,” Democrat State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad from Des Moines said.

If the legislature fast tracked the governor's proposal, it would still be 2022 at the earliest that it would take effect.

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