Democrat Andy Beshear has just been sworn into the office of Governor of Kentucky, but he’s already using the power of his office to sign an executive order granting voting rights to felons.
Gov. Beshear’s order will restore the right to vote to over $140K convicted felons in Kentucky, making Iowa now the only state in America to hold a lifetime voting ban on people with a felony in their past.
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Watch the video of Gov. Beshear's announcement of his executive order to restore voting rights to felons here:
Axios has more details:
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an order on Thursday restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, the Wall Street Journal reports.By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter."— Gov. Andy Beshear
Why it matters: Iowa is now the only state in the country with a lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony. Convicted felons in Kentucky previously had to seek clemency from the governor on an individual basis. The League of Women Voters of Kentucky issued a report in January that some 312,000 people feel disenfranchised because of felony convictions. Between the lines: Beshear appears to be following in his father's footsteps, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who signed an executive order just before leaving office in 2015 to restore voting rights to more than 100,00 convicted felons.
The New York Times also said:
Kentucky’s newly elected Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, signed an executive order on Thursday restoring the vote and the right to hold public office to more than 140,000 residents who have completed sentences for nonviolent felonies.
With that move, Kentucky joined a fast-growing movement to return voting rights to former felons, leaving Iowa as the only state that strips all former felons of the right to cast a ballot.
Since 1997, 24 states have approved some type of measure to ease voting bans, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington group that advocates criminal justice policy changes. Kentucky joins Virginia, Florida, Nevada and other states that have extended voting rights in the last few years.
Mr. Beshear said the order would apply to more than half of the estimated 240,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past, as well as those who complete their sentences in the future.
While he believes in justice, he said, “I also believe in second chances.”
“We’re talking about moms and dads, neighbors and friends, people who have met and taken on one of the greatest challenges anyone can face: overcoming the past,” the governor said. “It is an injustice that their ability to rejoin society by casting a vote on Election Day is automatically denied.”
Voting-rights advocates called Kentucky’s decision a significant advance in a campaign to return the vote to felons that began decades ago and has won widespread attention and support only recently.