Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Iowa: Restoration of Voting Rights

The Associated Press reports Gov. Terry Branstad has "restored voting rights to more convicted felons in 2013 than in the prior two years combined." That amounts to 21 in 2013, 17 in 2012 and 2 in 2011. Consequently, his restorations actually represent "a tiny fraction of the thousands of former offenders" who  cannot vote because of a "policy change" he ordered in 2011.

It is reported that Branstad can also be credited for making the application process "easier" in in response to "criticism from voting rights groups." More specifically, he "removed requirements that applicants submit a credit history check and that all court-ordered restitution be paid to victims in full before they apply."

Iowa is now one of only five states that requires the governor to restore the voting rights of convicted felons. Applicants must:
... answer 29 questions, including one requiring them to provide the details of their sentence and others requiring them to provide the current addresses of the judge, prosecutor and defense lawyer involved. They must submit documentation showing they have either paid their restitution and court costs or are working in good faith to do so. And they must undergo a criminal background check through the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. The governor's office decides on applications within six months, granting them as long as the criteria are met. 
See story here.

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