My name is Travis Fugere and I’m from Waukee, Iowa. I’m one of the leaders of Celebrate Recovery at Lutheran Church of Hope.
I help people with drug addictions get back on their feet and get back to living life. I was incarcerated because of my drug addiction, and so I feel like I can give back to the community. And hopefully the people I work with won’t have to go through the same struggles I did with losing my rights and becoming a felon for life.
Growing up, it was instilled in me that it was a civic duty to vote. We always went up to the voting place as a family. When I lost my rights I felt like I lost my voice. I felt lower as a citizen. I want to be a part of the community, but if I don’t have a say, I feel like I’m just watching from the sidelines. There’s 50,000-plus of us in Iowa and we’re all standing on the sidelines. We’re just watching and hoping that everybody else makes the right choice.
Whether or not you think your vote counts, it does. If you want to complain about something, at least if you voted you can complain and be heard. But if you don’t, your complaints just go unheeded.
It’s been years since I had my discharge papers and fines paid off and I was under the impression that I would be able to get my rights restored, but it hasn’t happened yet. I am ignored by the town, city, state, and country. I’m the invisible guy that pays taxes, but I can’t vote. It’s very disparaging. And I realize, you do the crime, you do the time. But there’s got to be some point where you paid your debt.
By working with organizers from Restore Your Vote, Travis was able to have his voting rights restored in time to participate in the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. 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.