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Iowa's Controversial Voting Practice Comes to an End

Governor signs executive order restoring rights for felons
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 6, 2020 12:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order Wednesday granting convicted felons the right to vote after they complete their sentences, ending Iowa’s place as the only remaining state to broadly deny voting rights to felons, the AP reports. Reynolds, a Republican, fulfilled a promise she made in June to issue the order, though she said she'll continue to push the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would prevent future governors from overturning it. The order will restore the rights to an estimated 40,000 people who have completed prison sentences, probation, and parole, said Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, which has worked for several years for the change. “Iowa no longer is the only state in the country to permanently and for life ban its citizens from voting following any felony conviction," an ACLU director says.

Her order will not automatically restore voting rights to felons convicted of certain crimes, including first- and second-degree murder, attempted murder, fetal homicide and some sex offenses. Such felons would still need to petition the governor for the restoration of their voting rights. The order will not require felons to make full financial restitution to their victims before they'll be allowed to vote—a requirement that was opposed by Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which called for a a no-strings-attached order. "We absolutely encourage people to take this day and register," Andrews said. “Now our work is to make sure that people are registered and understand as of today they don't need to do paperwork, they don't need to do anything like that. As of today they are allowed to vote.”

(Read more Iowa stories.)

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