Incoming Kentucky governor poised to expand voting rights

After beating Gov. Matt Bevin in the recent election, Democratic Governor-elect Andy Beshear is expected to sign an executive order that restores voting rights to people with non-violent felony convictions who have completed their prison, probation and parole sentence.

This move follows in the footsteps of his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, who restored the voting rights of more than 100,000 people by executive order in 2015. Less than a month later, his executive order was reversed when Gov. Bevin took office.

Democratic lawmakers have also announced a package of bills aimed at increasing voter turnout, including a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to some people who have completed their felony sentence. The amendment would also have to be passed by voters next fall.

Meanwhile, the Fair Elections Center and Kentucky Equal Justice Center have filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Kentucky’s current rights restoration process, which gives the governor sole discretion to grant or deny rights, violates the First Amendment. The suit is on behalf of disenfranchised voters who ask that their “clemency applications be processed under objective rules and criteria, independent of the governor’s whims.”

By The Sentencing Project



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