As Iowans we take pride, rightfully, in our state’s role in choosing our president. The first-in-the-nation caucus state, though, is last in the nation when it comes to voting rights for those who have been formerly incarcerated. Iowa is now the last state in the country that strips voting rights from anyone who has been convicted of a felony — for life.
Iowa is poised, though, to right this wrong permanently. The governor has endorsed a constitutional amendment, supported by groups like the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, and the NAACP, that would restore an individual’s voting eligibility once they have completed their sentence. Our state Senator in Council Bluffs, Sen. Dan Dawson, is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which needs to approve the amendment for it to move forward.
When I go to caucus, I’ll go with the knowledge that tens of thousands of Iowans don’t have that same basic privilege to participate in our democracy. These are individuals that have served their sentence; who are no longer incarcerated, are off probation and parole; who are expected to re-enter into society, find jobs, housing and pay taxes.
Sen. Dawson: please do your part to help make our state one where all voices can be heard.