voting rights

Politics
2:28 am
Mon August 25, 2014

On The Fall Docket: Who Gets To Vote — And Who Gets To Decide?

Voters crowd into their polling place Aug. 15 at Keonepoko Elementary School in Pahoa, Hawaii.
Marco Garcia AP

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 12:23 pm

A federal appeals court in Denver is scheduled to hear arguments Aug. 25 in a dispute over whether Kansas and Arizona can require voters using a federal registration form to show proof of citizenship.

It's the first of several significant cases this fall that could determine who gets to vote, and how, in at least six states. The outcomes could also answer a much broader question: Who gets to decide?

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Bill Restoring Voting Rights to Some Felons Unlikely to Become Law in Kentucky

Rep. Jesse Crenshaw (D-Lexington)
Credit Kentucky LRC

A bill that would restore voting rights for thousands of Kentucky felons isn’t likely to pass this year.

Lawmakers say they could not reach an agreement over different versions of the proposed legislation.

GOP Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer previously amended the bill to include a five year waiting period and not cover felons with multiple offenses. He says passage is unlikely this year.

But bill sponsor Jesse Crenshaw says Thayer is refusing to help with a compromise.

“It’s hard for me to deal with Sen. Thayer’s logic because of the fact that he is the man that has to act on calling the bill, calling even the senate committee substitute to not recede and he’s the only one that can do that," Crenshaw, a Lexington Democrat, said.

Supporters of the proposed legislation have criticized Thayer’s changes, which would not affect about half of the felons the original bill was meant to help. The original measure would've affected an estimated 180,000 Kentuckians.

Regional
4:55 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Lawmaker Pushes Felon Voting Rights Bill at Anniversary March in Frankfort

State Rep. Jesse Crenshaw (seated far right) listens as U.S. Senator Rand Paul last month spoke on behalf of a bill that would restore voting rights to certain felons
Credit Kentucky LRC

Update 5:45 p.m.

The Kentucky House has rejected changes to a bill that would automatically restore voting rights to many felons.

This throws out a set of revisions from the Republican-controlled Senate that would have reduced the number of affected felons by more than half.

Bill sponsor Jesse Crenshaw implored colleagues to vote against the changes.

“The Senate committee substitute is a totally different bill. It does not accomplish what House Bill 70 was intended to accomplish,” said Crenshaw

The Senate must decide whether to drop its changes or keep them. If it’s the latter, the bill will go to a conference committee so lawmakers can seek a compromise.

Sen. Damon Thayer proposed the rejected changes in the Senate. He says it's premature to speculate about how the Senate will react.

Original Post

Thousands of people descended onto the Kentucky state Capitol building Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a Civil Rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The original 1964 march on Frankfort agitated for Civil Rights in segregation-era Kentucky, building support for the passage of the 1966 Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

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Politics
4:59 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Sen. Paul Backs Measure Restoring Voting Rights for Some Felons in Kentucky

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

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.

Original Post

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.

Politics
3:04 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Rand Paul, Eric Holder Discuss Possible Changes to Criminal, Voting Laws

Over lunch at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Rand Paul discussed changes in criminal sentencing and restoring voting rights to ex-felons, a pair of issues the Democratic attorney general and the Republican senator regard as vital to improving the criminal justice system.

In a statement following Wednesday's meeting, the Justice Department said Holder appreciates Paul's leadership on both issues and is pleased to have the opportunity to work with him on shared priorities.

Holder and Paul agree on the need to stem prison overcrowding, which they say diverts money away from crime fighting, and to stop charging many nonviolent, low-level drug defendants with offenses that carry long mandatory minimum sentences.

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Politics
3:20 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Future of Bill Restoring Voting Rights for Some Felons Uncertain as It Heads to Kentucky Senate

A bill that would automatically restore voting rights for non-violent felons in Kentucky has passed the House and heads to the Senate, where it has historically stalled.

Republican Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer says he won't support the bill unless it includes an amendment that would create a waiting period before the rights are restored.

“I can’t support it the way it’s written, with automatic restoration; the minute they walk out of jail, and have served all their time and parole, etc.”

U.S. Senator Rand Paul has voiced support for the bill. He favors a five-year waiting period.

Thayer says he isn’t sure yet whether a provision to require a photo ID to vote will be added to the bill.

Politics
12:37 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky House Committee Passes Measure Restoring Voting Rights to Some Felons

A bill to would restore voting rights for non-violent felons has passed a Kentucky House committee.

The measure is Rep. Jesse Crenshaw's latest attempt to put approximately 130,000 felons back on the voting rolls.

Similar efforts have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Crenshaw, a Lexington Democrat, says he hopes that his bill will fare better this year due to support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

“I hope that he would, in fact, speak with those in the Senate and urge them to call it for a vote, in committee and on the floor. I hope that he would do that."

A spokesman for Sen. Paul says he plans to urge Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass the legislation, and will testify before an upcoming Senate committee on the issue.

Currently, felons must seek a restoration of Civil Rights from the governor to regain the right to vote. Beshear has granted nearly 8,000 restorations since taking office.

If passed, Crenshaw’s legislation would put the issue to voters on the November ballot.

Politics
11:10 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Kentucky House Floor Leader Supports Restoring Voting Rights to Some Felons

Jeff Hoover (right) has announced his support for allowing some felons to get their voting rights back.
Credit Kentucky LRC

A prominent Republican has stepped forward to promote a long-debated proposal that seeks to amend Kentucky's Constitution to restore voting rights for some felons.

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said Tuesday "it's a matter of fairness" to restore the voting rights of some felons of who have served their sentences and met conditions of probation.

The proposal championed by Democratic state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw easily cleared a House committee on Tuesday. Previous versions have passed the Democratic-led House but died in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Crenshaw says he has his "fingers crossed" that the Senate will approve the legislation.

The proposal would exclude people convicted of intentional murder, rape, sodomy or sex offenses with a minor from having their voting rights automatically restored.

The legislation is House Bill 70.

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Regional
9:20 am
Mon February 25, 2013

A Slight Majority of Kentuckians Favor Restoring Voting Rights for Ex-Felons

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.

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Elections
11:13 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Report: One in 14 Kentucky Adults Ineligible to Vote Due to Felony Conviction

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.

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