Iowa GOP Gov. Reynolds signs order restoring felon voting rights

Republican Iowa Governor signed an executive order that restored felons’ rights to vote on Aug. 5, 2020.

What We Know:

  • Iowa GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds gave back to felons their right to vote on Aug. 5, after Iowa became the only state to deny felons their voting rights. The signed executive order grants felons the right to vote after they complete their sentences, including probation and parole. 
  • The order, however, does not automatically apply to felons convicted of certain crimes like first- and second-degree murder, attempted murder, fetal homicide, and some sex offenses. A petition to the governor is needed for the consideration of restoring their voting rights. The order also will not require felons to make full financial restitution to their victims before being able to vote.
  • “Iowa no longer is the only state in the country to permanently and for life ban its citizens from voting following any felony conviction,” Mark Stringer, the executive director of the ACLU of Iowa, said in a news release. “We’re relieved that the governor’s order does not make eligibility to vote dependent on how much money a person has, that is, it’s not contingent on paying off fees and fines or other associated debts.” 
  • Some of Reynold’s fellow Republicans oppose the order, thinking that some crimes are not forgivable and that felons who have to pay restitution to the victims must pay it before getting the right to vote. But some think that the repayment schemes are meant to prevent them from voting, knowing there are those who can’t afford repayment. 
  • But Reynolds believes in second chances and made this a priority, considering she struggled with alcoholism and drunken driving arrests before getting treatment and being sober for more than 20 years. 
  • “It boils down to our fundamental belief in redemption and second chances,” Reynolds said. “It’s a big step for so many on the road to redemption and proving to themselves and maybe to others that their crimes or convictions do not define them.”

16  states restored felons’ right to vote upon release and 21 more states restored their felons’ voting rights after their sentence is served. Kentucky, Virginia, and Florida recently allowed felons to vote.