Felons in Iowa will automatically be allowed to vote upon completion of their sentences, under a new executive order signed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday.
“Quite simply, when someone serves their sentence, they paid their price our justice system has set for their crimes,” Reynolds said at the bill signing. “They should have the right to vote restored automatically. Plain and simple.”
Before the order, Iowa was the only state prohibiting anyone convicted of a felony from voting or holding public office unless they petitioned the governor.
“That creates the potential for uneven justice. 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, unless a single individual decides otherwise,” Reynolds said.
The prohibition disproportionately affected minorities, according to state officials.
The order has two parts. It restores the right to vote for Iowans who have already completed their felony sentences. Those who complete their sentences in the future will see their rights restored by the governor upon completion.
People convicted of homicide are excluded.
The executive action comes after Reynolds failed to garner enough support in the state Senate in June for a proposed amendment to the state Constitution. It is portrayed as a temporary measure.
“Whereas, a constitutional amendment continues to be the only permanent solution to this issue, but the process for proposing and ratifying such an amendment will likely take several additional years during which time Iowans would be deprived of these advantages,” the order states (pdf).
Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, a Republican, said in a statement that he commended Reynolds for signing the order.
“I also appreciate that she has ensured that those individuals convicted of the most serious and heinous crimes will not receive blanket restoration,” he said. “The House took action on the constitutional amendment in 2019 and I look forward to continue working with the Governor and Senate to find resolution next session.”
State Sen. Jerry Behn, a Republican, told a local radio station earlier this year that hes more concerned about victims than felons.
“To be perfectly blunt, Im more concerned about the victim of the crime than the perpetrator of the crime. If the perpetrator of the crime gets in trouble, as they should, thats fine,” Behn said. “The idea that just because you served some prison time somehow youve paid your debt to society is not necessarily accurate in my mind. If you stole an amount of money there should be some restitution to the victim.”
At the bill signing on WednRead More From Source