For most of us, the right to vote has been a part of our adult lives. It seems weird to think about not having the ability to cast a ballot. But, imagine if you lost your right to vote and had to take even extra steps to get it back? This is the reality for more than 50,000 Iowans, according to a 2016 report from The Sentencing Project. Indeed, Iowa is one of two states (the other is Kentucky) in the country that imposes permanent disenfranchisement for people, even after they’ve served their sentence and completed all probation requirements. (You may have seen the recent news when Florida passed an amendment giving Floridians who were previously denied voting rights the ability to register to vote.) I believe it’s incredibly important for all people to exercise their right to vote and thus want to draw attention to an upcoming opportunity at The University of Iowa for those who have had their voting rights revoked due to a felony conviction. (While I’m not personally involved, I know people who are!)
Iowans who have lost their voting rights can restore them only through submitting a “Right to Vote and Hold Public Office” application to the Office of the Governor. The Governor then has the discretion to restore voting rights. (Governor Reynolds has restored the voting rights for 88 people since taking office in 2017.) While certainly a hurdle, the good news is that the state has recently streamlined the application to make it easier to complete. Additionally, Governor Reynolds has made public statements calling for a constitutional amendment to do away with the state’s lifetime ban on voting for felons, but that would take at least a couple legislative sessions for actual adoption per the state’s amendment process.
Voting Rights Restoration Clinic Info
In the meantime, the application is still essential for people looking to restore their voting and ability to hold public office rights. The University of Iowa Legal Clinic is hosting an opportunity for application assistance and advice for anyone interested. See the image below for more information and contact the Clinic at 319-335-9023 to reserve a spot. (Note: if you’re not able to participate on March 2, 2019, there are other opportunities for the Clinic to offer assistance, so don’t hesitate to call.)