Letters to the Editor

Iowa must end disenfranchisement of felons

The League of Women Voters is encouraged by the action Gov. Reynolds took last year in proposing an amendment to change the Iowa Constitution regarding voting eligibility for people who have been convicted of a felony. We are also encouraged by plans to assist returning citizens in filling out their applications for restoration of eligibility. But as the caucuses near, we see that the course we are on is just too slow.

The League strongly supports passage of the proposed constitutional amendment, but we should not continue to deny voting eligibility to the thousands of Iowans affected by our antiquated constitutional provision. People deserve second chances. When the sentence is completed, the punishment should end.

Studies show that rapid re-entry to the community reduces repeat offenses. Earning back the eligibility to vote builds stronger community connections. Strong communities keep us all safer. All Iowans deserve that.

Several steps can bring us closer to restored voter eligibility, fuller participation in the democratic process, and the benefits that provides:

Secretary of State: post an accurate list of felony disenfranchisement with easy accessibility

Governor: rapidly approve all qualified applications for reinstatement of eligibility and continue to simplify the process to decrease response time

Iowa Senate: make passage of the proposed amendment a priority

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The LWVIA strongly encourages these actions to ensure that all eligible Iowans have the ability to participate in our democracy.

Terese Grant

President

League of Women Voters of Iowa

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