My name is Rachel Manna and I'm from West Des Moines, Iowa.
Voting is a right that I don’t feel should be taken from us. It’s important to participate in who’s elected in our city, in our state and in our country. But I didn’t care as much about it before, so I didn’t ever vote or pay attention to politics at all. Now I’m really interested in trying to learn more.
It didn’t really feel like it affected me until I completed my sentence and knew that I still couldn’t vote, even if I wanted to. We had elections in 2016 and I drove people around so that they could vote when I couldn’t. I felt like I was still able to contribute because I knew that even if I couldn’t vote, other people could because I helped them.
I had reached out to my old probation officer and asked her for advice on what to do and I was discouraged when I got this big long thing that I had to fill out. It was eleven pages and I had to write down each one of my charges and when they happened and what happened, and all of my fines. Then I reached out to a paralegal and she sent me this simple one page form that I filled out and mailed in.
Finally, I got a phone call saying that I got my rights back and within a couple of days I had something in the mail. I got this real official document with a seal on it that’s got my name on it and says that my rights have been restored. It made me feel like I was a part of this country again.
As soon as I got my rights back people were in my inbox on Facebook wanting to know how I did it and what happened and what they can do. So I’ve sent them all the same form. The process is so easy. You just have to fill it out and then wait. I don’t know of anybody who’s filled out this application who has not gotten their rights back.
Governor Reynolds has streamlined the voting rights restoration process in Iowa by creating a one page form that people with felony convictions can fill out to have their rights restored. However, Iowa remains the only state in the United States that requires all people with felony histories to apply to the governor before they can have their voting rights restored.