Iowa Governor to Restore Felon Voting Rights

Measure will restore thousands to the voting rolls

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today announced that he will issue an executive order to restore the voting rights of felons who have served their sentences, a move that will restore voting rights to some 50,000 Iowans in time for the next elections in that state. People For the American Way Foundation, a civil rights organization and leading member of the Election Protection coalition, welcomed the news.

“The Governor’s order will take effect on Independence Day – a fitting gesture to emphasize that voting rights are the very foundation of our freedom as Americans. When an Iowa felon pays his debt to society, he will once again assume the full rights – and responsibilities – of citizenship. That’s the kind of policy that makes the nation stronger,” said PFAWF President Ralph G. Neas.

PFAWF is a member of the Right to Vote Campaign, a national coalition effort to end felony disenfranchisement and restore voters to the voting rolls.

Iowa has been one of the most restrictive states for voting rights restoration, and the disenfranchisement has fallen disproportionately on African Americans. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, just 2 percent of Iowa’s population is African-American, yet 25 percent of the disenfranchised felons are African American.

“Governor Vilsack has shown true leadership. This is a move that supports justice, equality and democracy, and will serve as an example to the nation. We congratulate him, and we hope that this July, Iowa will see a wave of proud citizens take this opportunity and register to vote,” said Neas.

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