A Democrat-backed bill that would have restored voter rights to some ex-felons was scaled back Wednesday to a measure changing eligibility requirements for criminal record-sealing, but sponsors say that doesn’t mean the controversial effort to restore voting rights for former prisoners is dead. In an unusual procedural move, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford’s bill SB125 — which had passed the Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Committee on May 9 — was sent back to the same committee Wednesday and the old vote was revoked. The scaled-back version of the bill was brought up for a new vote, and passed with one Republican, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, opposed.
Restoring voting rights for ex-felons has been a partisan flashpoint this session, and a bill attempting to do so was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2011. Sponsors say they believe they can make their bills different enough than the vetoed bill that they could get Sandoval to sign it.
Ford said the gutting of his bill was “absolutely not” a sign that the voting concept was dead, adding that “it remains an important priority for us.”
“There were several vehicles out there that address this issue in different ways … and what we’ve done is taken a more expansive approach to look at it,” Ford said. “So my bill addresses one component of this issue, there are other bills that issue the voting component.”