Last week’s election held personal stakes for Sara Lee. A Louisville mother of four planning to finish a master’s degree after battling addiction, Lee wanted to vote for candidates who could improve health care, education funding and women’s rights. But Lee’s 2013 felony drug conviction — for which she completed seven months in jail — meant the 37-year-old couldn’t cast a ballot. It left her watching on the sidelines. “I feel like I don’t have a voice,” she said. Kentucky has long had some of the nation’s highest rates of felony disenfranchisement — taking away voting rights because of a crime conviction. Nearly one in 10 residents — and a nation-topping one in four African-Americans — are barred from voting for life because of felony convictions, according to the Washington D.C.-based Sentencing Project.
But on Tuesday, Kentucky’s outlier status grew starker after Florida voters approved a ballot measure to automatically restore felons’ ability to vote once sentences are complete, except those convicted of murder and sex offenses. That left Kentucky and Iowa as the only two states to permanently ban all felons from voting unless restored individually by the governor. Virginia law also permanently bars felons from voting, but governors have recently been restoring rights automatically.
Full Article: Voting rights: Kentucky among last to permanently ban felons.