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Iowa governor to sign executive order restoring felon voting rights

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Tuesday she will sign an executive order automatically restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions.

Iowa is the sole remaining state that requires felons to apply individually to the governor’s office to have their voting rights restored. This currently restricts more than 60,000 residents and close to 10 percent of the state’s African American population from voting.

“We’re working on that right now, sitting down with various groups, listening to what they think is important, what is contained in that executive order,” Reynolds told Radio Iowa on Tuesday morning, “and then I’ve got my legal team working on it.”

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Officials with the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union and activists affiliated with the Des Moines chapter of Black Lives Matter met with Reynolds on Friday and Monday to discuss such an order, Reynolds said. Meeting attendees had previously said that Reynolds pledged to sign an order before November elections, but Reynolds had not confirmed it herself until Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register.

“We have an important election coming up,” Reynolds said. “We’re working on the language to see what that looks like, but hopefully it would mirror what we would put in a constitutional amendment so that we could be consistent in what we’re trying to do.”

Reynolds has frequently pushed state lawmakers to amend the state constitution to automatically restore felons’ voting rights after their sentences are complete, with Republican lawmakers defeating the proposal each time, according to the newspaper.

While GOP lawmakers have said an executive order will make a legislative fix unnecessary, Reynolds said she will continue pushing for equivalent legislation.

“I still am not going to give up on a permanent solution,” she told Radio Iowa. “I just believe that’s the right thing to do and then it doesn’t matter who’s sitting in the governor’s chair.”