Restoration of Voting Rights
Last December, Governor Beshear signed an executive order restoring voting rights to more than 140,000 Kentuckians with past felony convictions.
Rights are restored automatically, but all people whose rights were restored must still register to vote.
This order applies to people who have completed their full sentence, probation, and parole. It also applies to people who are still on probation and parole only because of unpaid fines or restitution.
Open the menus below to learn more and get ready to vote.
1. Whose Rights Were Restored?
See if your voting rights were restored:
This executive order automatically restores the voting rights of some people with past felony convictions. You must have completed your full sentence, probation, and parole to qualify. If you are still on probation or parole only because of unpaid fines or restitution, you are also eligible and should have your rights automatically restored.
The order does not cover people who were convicted of bribery; treason; sex offenses; and some "violent" offenses, as defined by Kentucky law. It also does not include people with felony convictions from other states or for federal crimes.
See if your civil rights were restored by checking the Civil Rights Restoration Database: Click here
What if my voting rights were not restored?
If your voting rights were not restored, you can petition the Governor for restoration of civil rights. The application is free and can be found here. The application takes up to 12 weeks to process, so submit the application at least 3 months before the voter registration deadline to vote in the next election.
What if my rights were restored, but my name is not in the Civil Rights Restoration Database?
All people who qualify should have their rights restored automatically. If you believe your rights should have been restored, call the Kentucky Department of Corrections 502-782-2266 for more information.
2. Register to Vote
If your rights were restored, you must still register to vote.
Registering to vote is free and you only need to do it once. If your information changes (i.e. name, address), you will need to update your registration. You can register to vote or update your information online or by completing a paper form. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, many county clerks have closed for in-person services. If you need a paper form, call your local county clerk. Find their contact information here.
Voter Registration Deadlines:
- Primary Election
- Voter registration/updated information deadline: Tuesday, May 26, 2020
- Early in-person voting: June 8, 2020–June 23, 2020
- Last day to request a mail-in absentee ballot*: Tuesday, June 16, 2020
- Election Day: Tuesday, June 23, 2020
- November Election
- Voter registration/updated information deadline: Monday, October 5, 2020
- Election day: Tuesday, November 3, 2020
*All voters can vote-by-mail in the primary election due to the pandemic. All ballots must be postmarked by June 23, 2020.
Please note, some paper voter registration forms may have been printed before this executive order went into effect. These forms require you to confirm a statement reading: "I am not a convicted felon, or if I have been convicted of a felony, my civil rights must have been restored by executive pardon." You may register to vote using a form with this language. The updated language says: "I am not a convicted felon, or if I have been convicted of a felony, my right to vote has been restored following an expungement, Executive Pardon, or Executive Order."
3. 2020 Elections
Learn more about the 2020 elections on our voter information page to:
- Register to vote
- Update or verify your registration
- Request a mail-in ballot (all voters can now vote-by-mail in the primary election due to the pandemic)
- Find your polling place if you need to vote in person
- View a sample ballot
- Know your rights as a voter
- See what forms of ID are required to vote
4. The Road Ahead
This executive order was a step in the right direction, but it leaves behind more than 100,000 other people who have completed their sentence, probation, and parole.
Before this order, the Kentucky blocked roughly 242,000 people from exercising their right to vote because they had past felony convictions. Kentucky was one of only two states that permanently barred people with past felony convictions from voting. This disenfranchised approximately 9% of otherwise eligible voters and nearly 25% of African-Americans.
We hope the state legislature will start the process to permanently remove this draconian requirement from the Kentucky Constitution. These changes must be written into law because this executive order could be reversed by a future governor. No Kentuckian should be denied this most fundamental right.