A majority of Kentuckians favor amending the state constitution to allow convicted felons to regain their right to vote once they’ve completed their sentences. A new Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll found that 51 percent are in favor of the move, while 38 percent oppose it.
Kentucky is one of five states that bar all felons from the polls unless their voting rights are restored by a pardon by the Governor or another state agency.
Thirty-six states automatically restore the voting rights of ex-felons. Bills have been introduced in the Kentucky House for six years that would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot restoring ex-felons’ voting rights, but those efforts have always fallen short in the state Senate. Last week such a bill passed in the House on a vote of 75 to 25.
A new report shows nearly a quarter-million Kentuckians are denied access to voting booths because of felony convictions.
The report released Tuesday by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky says the state has the third highest rate of people who lost their voting rights despite completing felony sentences. Among blacks, Kentucky has the second highest disenfranchisement rate.
The report says one of every 14 adults in Kentucky is ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction, well above the national rate.
It says Kentucky is one of four states that permanently disenfranchise all felons, even after they complete their sentences.