Iowa Lifts Lifetime Ban on Voting for People With Felony Convictions

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Kim Reynolds wearing glasses and speaking white seated at a desk
Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds speaks at the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, June 26, 2020. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an executive order on August 5, 2020 restoring voting rights to most people with felony convictions who have served their time. Iowa was the last state in the U.S. to make all people with felony convictions apply for clemency and receive an individual order restoring that person’s voting rights.

Iowans with past felony convictions have fought hard for years for this victory.

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.

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, the District of Columbia, 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 had nearly 135,000 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.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content.