The Senate passed a wide-ranging elections bill 39-28 on a mostly party line vote that would expand early voting and restore voting rights to felons once they are no longer incarcerated. The bill would automatically register eligible voters when they apply for a driver’s license or state identification card or have it renewed. It would also allow 16- and 17-year olds to “preregister” to vote. A driver’s license applicant could opt-out of registering to vote.
Felons would have their voting rights restored as soon as they serve their sentence, rather than after leaving state supervised probation or parole, if the bill becomes law.
Advocates, including some law enforcement officials, say felons should be assimilated back into the community quickly to prevent recidivism. Opponents of the felon voting measure say by committing crimes the felons should suffer consequences and forfeit their rights.