DFL Senators in Minnesota are once again attempting to speed up the right to vote for felons. On Tuesday an amendment that was added to an elections bill would restore the right to vote once a criminal is released from prison. The measure passed 36-25, with the full elections bill later passing. Current Minnesota law does not restore voting rights to a felon until they have finished serving out their probation or parole.
Governor Mark Dayton supports the measure. Governor Dayton is reported saying, “We should let people who have served their sentences, paid their debt to society, be given their chance to restore their active participation in our … democratic process.”
Governor Dayton stated he wishes there was more he could do about this issue, saying he explored accomplishing this goal through unilateral action, and found he does not have the authority to do so, explaining, “We looked very carefully to see what the boundaries are.”
Reported estimates show that anywhere from 47,000 to 74,000 people would be directly affected by these changes. However, the bill faces an unlikely future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. A comparable bill was removed from a budget bill last session.
Some felons may already be voting, however. As Alpha News reported The Minnesota Voter’s Alliance is filing a petition with the State Supreme Court regarding same-day voter registration practices. The Alliance claims that in 2008 1000 ineligible felons voted in Minnesota.
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