Voting is a right, not a privilege. Everyone has made mistakes, and no person should be defined by the worst parts of their past. It's time for Kentucky to permanently restore voting rights to people with felony convictions in their past.
Kentucky is 1 of only 3 states that has still not permanently restored voting rights to people with felony convictions in their past. This leaves Kentucky on the fringe, with one of the harshest voting restrictions in the country and many voters reliant on precarious executive actions.
What would it do?
This legislation would give Kentucky voters the opportunity to amend the state's Constitution and automatically restore voting rights to people with past felony convictions who have completed their entire sentence, probation, and parole. It would not restore rights to people convicted of election fraud, bribery related to an election, or treason.
Voter Disenfranchisement By The Numbers:
- 25% of African-Americans either are or would be denied the right to vote in Kentucky – the highest rate in the nation.
- 300,000 Kentuckians have been convicted of a felony.
- 180,000 Kentuckians with a past felony conviction are now able to vote, but rely on a precarious executive order.
- 65,000 Kentuckians have completed their entire sentence, probation, and parole, but are still not allowed to vote.
- 1 in 11 Kentuckians either still are or would be denied the right to vote if not for precarious executive protections.
Governor Beshear restored voting rights to roughly 175,000 Kentuckians with some past felony convictions by executive order in 2019. This was a significant step in the right direction, but left nearly 65,000 people behind and could be easily undone by a future governor.
Mass incarceration and blocking people with past felonies from voting have worked in tandem to deny African-Americans a say in the democratic process. Before Governor Beshear's order, 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.
According to a 2021 poll, 67% of Kentuckians support automatic restoration for people who have completed their sentence. Support cuts across age, gender, and political affiliation.
Cornerstone of Democracy:
Voting is the most fundamental right in a democracy. We all make mistakes, and no person should be defined entirely by the worst moments of their past.
Do you have a past felony conviction? Learn more about the governor's executive order, see if your rights were restored, and register to vote here.