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Felon voting rights in Iowa

In Iowa, an individual’s voter registration is cancelled if s/he is convicted of a felony, but the right to vote may be restored by the Governor upon completion of the felony sentence. So, what’s the issue here? It just so happens that Iowa is the last state in the nation that still bans all people with felony convictions from voting — even after the completion of their sentences — unless they apply individually to the governor's office to have their rights restored. Iowa's felon voting ban is estimated to affect tens of thousands of people, especially African Americans. Without a change in legislation, over 60,000 people in Iowa will be denied their voting rights, come general election time in November.

Governor Reynolds has been advocating for the Iowa Legislature to pass a state constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights but has resi

sted calls to sign an executive order, saying she believes a constitutional amendment is the best solution because it can't be changed by a future governor. And for the second year in a row, Iowa Senate Republicans killed this proposed constitutional amendment even before it could be called up for a vote before the full Senate.

It’s high time Governor Reynolds now takes the path of Executive Order. She must overturn this archaic legislation and give folks with felony conviction their voting rights back, as long as they have completed all terms of imprisonment, probation, parole etc. Civil rights groups such as NAACP and ACLU of Iowa have been demanding such an Executive Order for a long time now. BLM activists have now added their voice to the matter, further enraged after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Governor Reynolds, we are five months away from a very consequential presidential election. Time is running out. It’s time you took this matter in your hands and signed an executive order. The next gubernatorial election in Iowa, afterall, is not until 2022.

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