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Iowa governor signs order to restore felon voting rights

Iowa governor signs order to restore felon voting rights
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed an executive order restoring voting rights to some convicted felons on Wednesday.

The governor’s signature on the order, which she announced in June, will permit some convicted felons to automatically be able to vote in elections without having to petition the governor’s office individually.

“Quite simply when someone serves their sentence and pays the price our justice system has set for their crimes, they should have their right to vote restored automatically, plain and simple,” Reynolds said before signing, adding that the current requirements create “the potential for uneven justice.”

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“It means people who have served their sentence and are seeking to get their lives back on track permanently are prohibited from one of the most basic rights of citizenship,” she said.

Reynolds had announced her plans to sign the order after meeting with activists from the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union and the Des Moines Black Lives Matter chapter in June. She vowed at the time to sign the order before the November elections but had not set a specific date.

The order excludes people who have been convicted for more serious crimes, including murder, and will require felons to pay victim restitution before voting.

Iowa’s mandate for felons to apply individually to get their voting rights affected more than 60,000 residents and almost 10 percent of the state's Black population.  

Over the past two years, the governor has called on state lawmakers to amend the Iowa Constitution to change the felon voting requirements. She pressed that request on Wednesday, saying the lawmakers should make the solution permanent beyond her executive order, which could be changed with another governor.