More nonviolent felons who have completed their entire sentence – including probation and parole – would have their voting rights automatically restored under a bill introduced in the Wyoming Legislature. Under the current system, nonviolent felons who completed their sentence before Jan. 1, 2016, were convicted under federal law or who were sentenced out of state can have their rights restored, but must first complete an application process. Felons who were sentenced in Wyoming and completed their sentence after Jan. 1, 2016, would be exempt from the application requirement. House Bill 75 eliminates the application process and instead directs the Wyoming Department of Corrections to automatically issue certificates of voting rights restoration to affected people if their conviction was in Wyoming.
Felons convicted outside of Wyoming or by a federal law would have to submit a request to the Department of Corrections. The department would also have to notify the respective county clerk that voting rights have been restored if the felon is a Wyoming resident.
“In the past couple years, I have encountered numerous people who can’t figure out how to get through the system,” said Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, the lead sponsor of the bill.
Byrd called the last election “absolutely a travesty for those people” that are eligible to have their voting rights restored, but couldn’t navigate the application process.