Nearly 6 percent of Kentuckians are unable to vote due to a felony conviction, the fourth highest rate in the nation. Last year’s effort was stalled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but lawmakers feel confident a constitutional amendment could be approved this year.
A group of organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, the ACLU, and the American Probation and Parole Association, called Thursday for state legislators to approve a constitutional amendment that would give most felons back their voting rights once they have completed their sentences, reports the Messenger-Enquirer.
House Bill 232 has already been filed in Frankfort for consideration during this year’s legislative session and Officials from several organizations discussed the bill during a presentation of the League of Women Voters’ annual report on felony disenfranchisement in Kentucky.
The report found, despite a 2019 executive order by Gov. Andy Beshear to restore voting rights to some people with felony convictions, almost 200,000 people were blocked from voting by a felony last year.
Fran Wagner, president of the state League of Women Voters chapter, said 5.92 percent of state residents are unable to vote due to a felony conviction, the fourth highest in the nation. The report found 38,665 Black state residents have lost their right to vote because of a felony, which makes up 15.1 percent of the state’s Black population.
Additional reading: 10 States Have Expanded Voting Rights Since 2016