Updated: 5:26 p.m.
The bill cleared the full Senate late Wednesday by a 34-4 vote. It now goes back to the House for reconciliation. The House bill did not include a five-year waiting period, while the Senate version did.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul has thrown his support behind a state bill that would restore the voting rights of some felons.
Paul spoke before the Kentucky Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday. He reminded the panel of the Republican Party’s history of support for civil rights. And he noted the higher incarceration rates of African-Americans in Kentucky, where a fifth of black adults cannot vote due to a felony record.
“There was a time in our society where there were intentional incarcerations based on race," the Bowling Green Republican said. "I don’t think it’s intentional, but there … has become a racial outcome on who’s incarcerated in our country, and I think that’s something that has to be addressed here. Because not only is the incarceration, I think, unfair, then they get out and the voting rights are impaired.”
A bill restoring voting rights for certain felons then cleared the committee by a unanimous vote. But it was amended to include mandatory five-year waiting period and an exemption for those with multiple offenses.