A widely-supported bipartisan measure to restore voting rights to Minnesota felons once they have been freed from prison has failed to gain traction in the House, leading to protest from supporters and lawmakers who want to know why. The bill, which has cleared committees and made it to the Senate floor, has yet to receive its first hearing in the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, despite the fact that committee chair Rep. Tony Cornish is chief author of the bill. The bill has until a Friday deadline to receive a hearing. Cornish, R-Vernon Center, said last week only that he hoped the bill would receive a hearing.
On Wednesday, members of the Minnesota Restore the Vote Coalition, including Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, rallied on a cold and blustery day on the Capitol steps to again renew their push to give the bill traction. Among them was NOC Voting rights organizer Navell Gordon, a convicted felon who has pushed for the change.
“I have a little past, but I’m mostly doing good out here,” he said. “I have a daughter and I want to show her it’s good to get out here and vote. At the end of the day I’m out here doing good for my community, and voting is important to me.”