The new executive order means there is now no U.S. state categorically banning people with former convictions from voting.
In a development heralded as “a historic sea change,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order on Wednesday overturning the state’s policy of permanently banning those with felony convictions from voting.
“Today we take a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of redemption, second chances, and the need to address inequalities in our justice system,” said Reynolds, a Republican, whose order (pdf) is expected to restore voting rights to roughly 40,000 people.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, welcomed the order.
“This is a big deal,” Gupta tweeted. “Iowa was the last remaining state that permanently and categorically banned people with former convictions from voting.”
Previously, those who’d completed felony sentences had to individually appeal to the governor for possible re-enfranchisement.
Eliza Sweren-Becke, voting rights and elections counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, responded similarly to the order, tweeting, “This is a HUGE—now NO state in the country has a policy of permanently and categorically banning people from voting because of past convictions—a historic sea change.”
BREAKING: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds just restored voting rights to tens of thousands of Iowans with former convictions by executive order. This comes with no requirements to pay off fees and fines.
— Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) August 5, 2020
The change is also good news for racial justice.
“This action will benefit people regardless of race or ethnicity, but with the grave racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it will very significantly benefit African Americans and other people of color,” Betty C. Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said in a statement.
As KPBS reported:
Reynolds’ order restores voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence, including probation, parole, and special sentences that are associated with sex offenses. Reynolds’ order does not require payment of victim restitution or any other fines or fees as a condition of being able to vote, a point of contention in Florida that has been caught up in court.
The order doesn’t cover those convicted of felony homicide offenses—an exclusion lamented by ACLU of Iowa executive director Mark Stringer, who said his group would “continue to work to ensure that all Iowans who have completed their sentences can once again participate in the democracy that so profoundly affects them.”
Voting rights advocates also recognized that Wednesday’s win could be easily yanked away—they saw that happen in 2011 when then-Gov. Terry Branstad rescinded a 2005 executive order that had restored voting rights to Iowans who had completed sentences for felony convictions.
As such, said Stringer, “it’s important that we continue to pursue a more permanent fix to the problem of felony disenfranchisement in our state. Another governor could issue a different executive order to reverse this current executive order.”
“That’s why we’ll continue to advocate for an amendment to the Iowa Constitution,” he said.
‘He told us to use his words against him’: Early AM protest outside Lindsey Graham’s home over RBG replacement
"In the spirit of RBG, we will not allow a double standard in how our Congress deals with late-term Supreme Court appointments."
Taking Sen. Lindsey Graham up on his 2016 advice to use his words opposing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland against him should a Supreme Court seat open in the final year of a Republican president's first term, a group of demonstrators gathered outside of the South Carolina Republican's Washington, D.C. residence early Monday morning demanding that he oppose the filling of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat until after the November election.
Lindsey Graham ‘is in danger of an upset’ loss: top elections forecaster
Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) re-election campaign looks increasingly in peril, according to one of America's top elections forecasters.
The latest update from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics claims that Graham today "is in greater danger of an upset" than he was just weeks ago, which has led to a ratings change in Graham's race against Democratic rival Jamie Harrison from "likely R" to "leans R."
Among other things, the Center for Politics points to Harrison's gaudy fundraising numbers as too big to ignore.
Trump openly admits he’s fast-tracking SCOTUS nominee to rule on ‘fake ballots’ during contested election
President Donald Trump is openly admitting he's wasting no time, fast-tracking the replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to help him during a contested election.
Speaking on "Fox & Friends," Trump on Monday said because of "fake ballots," he does not want a 4-4 Supreme Court ruling on the election, should there be one. There is zero evidence of fake ballots.
Trump suggests though he wants a confirmation vote before the elections, citing election disputes and his baseless claim of “fake ballots” being filled out. We don’t want a 4-4 tie at the court, he said