More than 20,000 Iowa felons could be poised to regain their voting rights as part of a landmark case that will be heard Wednesday by the state Supreme Court. Iowa justices will hear arguments in the case of a southeast Iowa woman who is challenging the Iowa law that permanently strips felons of their voting rights. Kelli Jo Griffin, 42, was convicted in 2008 of a felony cocaine delivery charge and had completed her sentence when she took her children in November 2013 to watch her vote in a municipal election, only to be charged with perjury for voting as a felon. A ruling in favor of Griffin and her lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa could radically alter what critics have long argued is one of the nation’s harshest felon disenfranchisement laws. But county prosecutors and auditors fear that such a ruling will make a mess of election procedures statewide.
Iowa, Florida and Kentucky are the only three states that permanently bar convicted felons from voting unless they complete a process for restoration — a requirement that groups such as the ACLU and NAACP contend is burdensome. Kentucky has begun moves to change its law.
For ex-offenders, especially those leaving prison, regaining the right to vote can be as helpful to rejoining society as getting involved in a church community or reuniting with families, said Myrna Perez, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice.
“We talk to criminal justices all the time who say, ‘We want people to be successful in their re-entry,'” she said. “We need to get them integrated.”
Full Article: Court case: 20,000 felons’ voting rights at stake.