Minnesota Democrats to Restore Voting Rights for 55,000 Convicted Felons
Democrat legislators in Minnesota are poised to restore voting rights for as many as 55,000 convicted felons across the state.
Last week, Minnesota Democrats in the state House and Senate approved a bill that will give back voting rights to up to 55,000 convicted felons who are no longer incarcerated in the state.
The bill, most significantly, ensures that felons secure their voting rights immediately after they are released from prison — a move that will automatically reregister them in the state’s voting rolls. Already, 21 states have such a policy.
“This is a really big law change, so we’re going to be there with our nonpartisan voter outreach folks, making sure everyone gets word,” Minnesota’s Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) told NPR.
DFL-led Minnesota Senate is sending two pieces of legislation to the governor's desk for signature that would restore voting rights for people with felony convictions once they leave prison and allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license. https://t.co/xntQnx4Fhi
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) February 22, 2023
Republicans in Minnesota, who opposed the bill, had sought to amend the measure to include provisions that would make felons convicted of certain violent crimes ineligible to have their voting rights restored.
“I don’t believe any Minnesotan wants to have a person who’s victimized one of our innocent citizens to have their civil rights restored, in this case the right to vote, when that sentence isn’t fully finished,” State Sen. Warren Limmer (R) told CBS Minnesota.
Across the United States, lawmakers have made restoring voting rights for felons a priority for years. In 2018, for example, Florida approved a measure that gave back the right to vote to 1.5 million felons in the state.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), in 2020, signed an executive order that granted voting rights to felons who had fully served their sentences. The order came after Reynolds met with leaders of a local Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization, the NAACP, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).