DES MOINES, Iowa- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa is applauding Republican Governor Kim Reynolds' proposal to change Iowa's law regarding felon voting rights. Currently, Iowa and Kentucky are the only states which require felons to apply to the governor to have their voting rights restored after serving their sentence. Governor Reynolds is proposing voting rights be restored automatically.
Veronica Fowler of the ACLU of Iowa tells WHO Radio News the ACLU has been working on this issue for years, and applauds the Governor for taking the stand.
Fowler says the current law impacts up to 60-thousand convicted felons who have served their time.
ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer issued a statement on the matter:
“The ACLU of Iowa applauds Gov. Reynolds for proposing automatic restoration of voting rights for the more than 60,000 Iowans convicted of a felony. We have been working for years to end Iowa’s destructive and draconian disenfranchisement laws. Denying Iowans the right to vote does nothing to keep our communities safer or make our democracy stronger. In fact, it does the opposite. It prevents thousands of Iowans from successfully reintegrating into society and becoming active, invested participants in our communities and our state.
And because of continuing racial disparities in Iowa’s criminal justice system, Black people in Iowa have been disproportionately hurt by this wrong-headed law; an estimated 1 in 4 African-American Iowans are being denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction.
We endorse a constitutional amendment to permanently right this wrong.”