Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday praised the Iowa Supreme Court for a ruling that will continue to deny voting rights to thousands of people who have completed sentences for felonies. Meanwhile, he said his office is working to make it slightly simpler for nonviolent former felons to get back their right to own firearms. It’s still going to be easier for people to get their voting rights back than to get their guns, as one might expect. Firearms restoration involves a full DCI investigation and culminates with a personal interview with the governor. Few will make it that far. No one who committed a violent crime will even be considered, Branstad said. So why has Branstad chosen to celebrate the denial of automatic voting restoration for thousands while promoting a firearms restoration process that will ultimately be successful for relatively few? … Rita Bettis, legal director for ACLU Iowa, said the process worsens inequities in voting. “Voting is supposed to be the great equalizer. But the governor’s system only strengthens the race and income disparities in our society. Right now, the process skews the ability to vote toward those people with money and eliminates those who are impoverished,” Bettis said in a statement.
ACLU Iowa sued the state for including all felonies as “infamous crimes” for which the state constitution says citizenship rights are forfeited. Some states have limited disenfranchisement to crimes directly related to the integrity of the voting process.
Bettis said the governor’s simplified process for restoring voting rights is still too complicated and intimidating. That’s the opposite of the governor’s assertion that voting restoration is “not a complicated process” and does not require a lawyer. “Filling out even the streamlined application requires many hours of collecting and tracking down documentation, if it is even available,” Bettis said. “The questions are still not clear, and if you give a wrong answer, you could face perjury charges.”
Full Article: Branstad: Voting is a privilege, not a right.