Iowa felons will continue to be disqualified from voting, even after a court ruling this week indicated that some felonies may not rise to a level that should bar those convicted from voting or holding office. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a second operating-while-intoxicated conviction, an aggravated misdemeanor, did not bar former state Sen. Tony Bisignano from running for state Senate again. Rival Democrat Ned Chiodo challenged Bisignano’s candidacy in the south-side Des Moines district, arguing that second-offense OWI was an “infamous crime” that would strip Bisignano of his voting and office-holding rights. In the ruling, Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote that Bisignano’s aggravated misdemeanor was not an “infamous crime.” Cady also wrote that the court should review in a future case whether some of Iowa’s 777 felony charges also might not rise to a level that would require stripping a person of voting rights.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa lauded the decision. The group has argued that only people guilty of crimes that would threaten the “integrity” of an election, such as bribery or election fraud, should be barred from voting.
For now, however, the court’s decision keeps intact Iowa’s election law that bars people convicted of a felony from voting unless their rights have been restored by the governor, said Chance McElhaney, a spokesman for the Iowa secretary of state’s office. “At this time, the secretary of state’s office will continue to treat all felonies as barring an individual from voting or holding office unless a restoration of rights has been received by the governor,” McElhaney said.
“The Iowa Supreme Court did not identify any felonies that were not ‘infamous crimes’ in its ruling (Tuesday), but should a court issue a ruling in the future that exempts a specific felony crime from the definition of ‘infamous crime,’ the Iowa secretary of state’s office will review that decision at the time,” he said.
Full Article: No voting for felons, secretary of state’s office says.