An Iowa judge upheld a state law that disqualifies felons from voting but said the state Supreme Court needs to sort out the confusion it caused last year when it ruled not all felons are automatically disenfranchised. Judge Arthur Gamble ruled Monday in the case of a woman who voted in a 2013 city election thinking her voting rights had been restored after she completed probation on a 2008 felony cocaine delivery charge. The case was one of the first brought against a felon who had voted that went to a jury. Kelli Jo Griffin of Montrose, 42, who said she’s turned her life around from drug addiction, was charged with perjury for registering to vote as a felon but a jury last year found her not guilty. Jurors concluded she’d made an honest mistake.
Under a policy established by former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2005, Iowa offenders automatically regained their voting rights when they left state supervision. However, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad signed an executive order when he took office in 2011 requiring felons to petition his office to seek restoration of their voting rights. That made Iowa one of only three states, along with Kentucky and Florida, with such a strict voter restoration process.
The Branstad process requires ex-felons to complete a detailed application, submit proof that court costs have been paid and provide a detailed criminal history.
The order caused confusion because some felons automatically had their rights restored under the Vilsack rules while others had to follow Branstad’s petition process, depending on when they completed their sentences.
Full Article: Judge upholds law disqualifying Iowa felons from voting.