A lawsuit filed Friday (July 1) in state court seeks to restore voting rights for some 70,000 Louisiana residents who are on probation or parole for felonies. The suit was filed in Baton Rouge by the group Voice of the Ex-Offender and several convicted felons who have been denied voting rights. The suit says state laws blocking people who are on parole or probation from voting violate the Louisiana Constitution. The 1974 constitution allows suspension of voting rights for people judicially declared mentally incompetent or those who are “under an order of imprisonment” for a felony. The lawsuit contends that the denial of voting rights does not extend to felons who have been released on parole or probation.
The suit asks the court to declare unconstitutional state laws that prohibit voting by felons on parole or probation. The state, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State Tom Schedler are named as defendants in the suit. Edwards’ office did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Schedler spokeswoman Meg Casper said the secretary has not been served with the lawsuit yet.
Ruth Wisher, spokeswoman for Attorney General Jeff Landry, said Landry’s office was reviewing the suit. “We believe the restrictions on voting rights of convicted felons are constitutional,” Wisher said in an email.