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Advocates testify at judiciary committee about restoring felons’ voting rights; LWVs weighs in

Representatives of Secure Democracy USA and different pro-electoral coverage advocates lately testified earlier than the Interim Judiciary Committee of the Kentucky General Assembly at the State Capitol Annex in Frankfurt on the very important challenge of restoring voting rights.

Kentucky is at present considered one of solely a handful of states that completely disenfranchises individuals convicted of a criminal offense. Today, 43 different states robotically restore voting rights after an individual serves their sentence, together with Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, South Dakota and Texas.

“I’m here to express our strong support for restoring voting rights and to urge you to move this important issue forward,” mentioned Charley Olena, vp of advocacy at Secure Democracy USA. “It is estimated that roughly 200,000 Kentuckians are at present disenfranchised on account of a felony conviction. These are actual residents throughout the Commonwealth who’ve served their time and reside, work, increase households and pay taxes in their communities – however they can not vote or take part in our political course of.”

Public Opinion Strategies pollster Robert Blizzard shared information from his firm’s newest nationwide ballot, confirming {that a} clear majority of Commonwealth voters assist restoring voting rights to those that have served their sentences.

Highlights from this fall’s in-depth survey embody:

• 74% of Republican main voters Support restoring voting rights to individuals who have served their sentences, together with suspended and suspended sentences, and have paid all fines and charges essential for his or her sentences – together with 65% who described themselves as “very conservative” and 84% as describe as “rather conservative”.

• 70% of Republican main voters Support the state legislature as they amend the structure in an upcoming vote to discover a lasting resolution.

• 53% of Republican main voters initially reported to assist the change. After we acquired extra info—particularly, the significance of giving Kentuckians who labored laborious to earn one a second probability—assist rose to 60%.

“Society needs an effective justice system to hold people accountable and protect us all from harm,” mentioned Jason Hall, government director of the Kentucky Catholic Conference. “However, once the conditions set by this system are met, the best way to serve the interest of society is for the person who committed the crime to once again accept and fulfill their responsibilities to the community. This includes working, paying taxes, fulfilling family responsibilities and participating in the political life of their community.”

Greg Kildow, General Manager of RAD Accessories in Marshall County, and Marcus Jackson, ACLU Organizational Coordinator in Kentucky, every shared their private tales of being reintegrated into society after serving their sentences.

“Despite the positive steps I have taken to rebuild my life as a productive citizen of our Commonwealth and the success I have found in my career and personal life, I will not be eligible to vote,” Kildow mentioned. “I am confident that the day will come when I can proudly register as a member of the Republican Party and vote in the elections on decisions that will affect my future – which continues to look very bright.”

“On November 8th, the Kentucky ACLU (as well as many workplaces statewide) will grant me time off to vote; but I can’t vote because of a 1992 conviction,” Jackson said. “The irony of disenfranchisement is that the very behavior society encourages — engagement with the larger social and political collective — is undermined by a law that denies the right to vote to people who wish to engage in this way.”

Senator Brandon Storm (R-London) plans to assist laws that might convey a constitutional modification to revive voting rights to the poll at the upcoming common session of the Kentucky General Assembly in 2023.

Archived video of final week’s Interim Committee on Judiciary listening to could be seen on-line at www.ket.org.

League of Women voters agree

After the listening to, the League of Women Voters issued a press release in assist of a constitutional modification to revive voting rights:

“Kentucky remains just one of three states in the country that permanently bans its citizens from voting if they have been convicted of a crime. As a result, 152,727 Kentuckians are currently barred from voting. This is the seventh highest rate of disenfranchisement for all citizens and the eighth highest rate for African Americans among any state.

“Amending the Kentucky Constitution is the only means by which those convicted of a crime can automatically have their voting rights restored, which would provide a more permanent solution to this problem.

Fran Wagner, President of the LWVKY, commented, “While this hearing did not address any specific legislation, the League of Women Voters views this informational hearing as the beginning of a conversation between our legislators and voters that will ultimately result in the successful passage of one.” bill giving that decision to the people of Kentucky.”

“Access to the ballot box and the right to vote is a sacred principle of democracy that gives citizens a voice in the way they are governed. It establishes all other rights and empowers citizens to participate in government and not just become petitioners. It should not be withheld from those who are working to build a new, productive life.”

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