ARTICLE

Branstad doesn't plan to change felon voting policy

Critics say current policy unnecessarily harsh

In this June 22, 2012 photo, Henry Straight, who has been trying to get his voting right back, poses for a picture with
In this June 22, 2012 photo, Henry Straight, who has been trying to get his voting right back, poses for a picture with the truck he drives at Penford Products in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A review by The Associated Press shows that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has made Iowa one of the most difficult states in the U.S. for felons to exercise their right to vote. (AP Photo/Ryan J. Foley)

Despite mounting criticism, a spokesman says Gov. Terry Branstad won't change the application process that former Iowa felons have to navigate to get their voting rights back.

Newspaper editorials, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Democratic Party have denounced Branstad's policy requiring ex-offenders to submit a credit report, pay all fines and restitution, obtain a $15 background check and answer 31 questions before he'll restore their citizenship rights.

A Des Moines Register editorial Sunday called the policy an embarrassment to Iowa. The criticism comes after The Associated Press reported Branstad has restored the rights of 11 offenders since implementing the policy, which is among the harshest in the nation.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht says the policy helps crime victims by denying felons their voting rights until they pay restitution.