More than 186,000 Kentuckians cannot participate in one of the most fundamental expressions of speech — the right to vote, according to a report by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky (LWVK). Kentucky is one of the two states that permanently disenfranchise all persons with felony convictions after they have completed their full sentence, except through executive pardon, the report says. “The right to vote is a foundation of citizenship,” social justice group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth stated on its website. “We require ex-felons to pay taxes and comply with the laws enacted by their legislators when they return to their communities. The right to vote, a hallmark of our democracy, should follow.”
Local members of KFTC, which has a chapter in Berea, along with dozens of other organizations, are in support of a bill that will allow voters to decide in November whether to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent ex-felons.
State Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, is sponsoring House Bill 70, an amendment to the state constitution that will allow persons convicted of a felony other than treason, intentional killing, a sex crime or bribery the right to vote after the completion of probation, parole or sentence, the draft bill reads.