The right to vote is the basic right of a democracy. Though some may make arguments in favor of taking that right away as part of punishment for a felony, no argument can be made for taking it away forever.
The League of Women Voters of Iowa calls for the automatic restoration of the right to vote when the convicted person leaves prison. Withholding that right does nothing to protect our electoral system or our justice system. Studies show that it actually diminishes the stability of our communities. It transforms any felony sentence into a lifelong sentence.
The Greeks had a term for this. They called it “civil death.” It is time for us to move beyond ancient Greek practices into sensible justice today.
Forty-six other states have an automatic path to restoration of voting rights; two other states never take them away. It is time for Iowa to remove permanent disenfranchisement from our constitution and enact reasonable and sensible voting provisions for former offenders.