Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an executive order on Wednesday (Aug. 5) granting convicted felons the right to vote after they finish their sentences, parole and probation.
Back in June, Reynolds made a promise to issue the order. She says she wanted to give former inmates a second chance, citing her own experiences with alcoholism.
“It boils down to our fundamental belief in redemption and second chances. It’s a big step for so many on the road to redemption and proving to themselves and maybe to others that their crimes or convictions do not define them,” Reynolds said.
According to NBC News, the order will not restore voter rights for felons who were convicted of certain crimes “including first- and second-degree murder, attempted murder, fetal homicide and some sex offenses.” The order will not demand the felons to make “full financial restitution to their victims before they’ll be allowed to vote” — a requirement the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU) opposed.
Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said that an estimated 40,000 felons will have their right to vote restored immediately.
“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.”
Mark Stringer, the executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, hailed the order as a win for the state. “Iowa no longer is the only state in the country to permanently and for life ban its citizens from voting following any felony conviction,” he said. “We’re relieved that the governor’s order does not make eligibility to vote dependent on how much money a person has, that is, it’s not contingent on paying off fees and fines or other associated debts.”