A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at restoring the voting rights of some felons cleared the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday after being rewritten to include a five-year waiting period. The measure returns to the House. It passed a much different version last month that proposed automatically reinstating voting rights for eligible felons after completing all conditions of their sentences. The proposal, which cleared the Senate on a 34-4 vote, would go on Kentucky’s fall ballot if it clears the Legislature. Some senators said they voted for the stricter Senate version in hopes of advancing it toward a better product crafted by House-Senate negotiators. They said the waiting period amounts to another punishment for people who paid their debt to society and should be eligible to vote. “Why do we want to punish them again, put another five years on them?” said Democratic Sen. Jerry Rhoads of Madisonville.
Senate President Robert Stivers defended the waiting period, saying he couldn’t support automatic restoration of voting rights for people convicted of such crimes as assault and drug trafficking.
“I can’t go there,” the Manchester Republican said.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said the five-year waiting period gives felons a chance to prove they won’t commit more crimes.