Iowa Lifts Lifetime Ban on Voting for People with Felony Convictions

Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed an executive order restoring voting rights to most people with felony convictions who have served their time. Iowa was the last state in the US to make all people with felony convictions apply for clemency and receive an individual order restoring that person’s voting rights. On June 22, 2020, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) wrote a letter to Reynolds urging her to ensure that Iowans are not denied their voting rights due to their inability to pay fines, fees, or restitution associated with their convictions. Iowa Justice Action Network has been organizing and lobbying for an Executive Order and Constitutional Amendment.

“Iowans with past felony convictions have fought hard for years for this victory,” said Blair Bowie, Restore Your Vote Manager at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “This is a recognition that democracy works best when all citizens can vote without barriers. Ensuring that Americans with past felony convictions who live, work and pay taxes can vote allows them to have a voice and a stake in the future of their communities.”

“As a formerly incarcerated person who just had my rights restored in January, I can tell you that this is vital to a person feeling that they have actually served their time and are a productive, normal member of the community again,” said Iowa Justice Action Network board member, Jacob Shepard. “The Executive Order is so important, but we will continue to fight for a Constitutional Amendment for a permanent fix.”

This summer, CLC and the Iowa Justice Action network have been running a digital outreach campaign for rights restoration in Iowa. The campaign is currently providing direct services by text message to hundreds of people seeking information about their voting rights eligibility. People in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico can use CLC’s free public education tool, RestoreYourVote.org to check their status.

At RestoreYourVote.org, visitors answer simple questions about their convictions to determine if they are eligible to vote right now, or eligible to go through the process to restore their right to vote in their state. The website also features the RestoreYourVote.org hotline, which provides callers with direct rights restoration services. Since the launch, the site has nearly 130,000 visitors seeking to learn more about voting rights restoration in their state. In the two years since the launch of RestoreYourVote.org, several states have eased voting restrictions for those with past convictions.