Iowa felon voter rights should be restored, a legislative advisory board recommended Wednesday. It’s a proposal that could affect about 52,000 Iowans. After Florida voters on Nov. 6 approved an amendment to their state’s constitution that automatically restores the voting rights of felons who’ve completed their sentences or go on probation, Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that permanently ban all felons from voting unless the governor individually restores their rights. “Iowa has been a leader on a whole range of civil rights issues; this is not one of them. Iowa is in the back of the line on this one,” Daniel Zeno, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said Wednesday to Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board.
Iowa had a longtime policy that generally prohibited convicted felons from voting until 2005, when former Gov. Tom Vilsack issued an executive order that restored voting rights to those who had completed their sentence.
Former Gov. Terry Branstad reversed Vilsack’s order shortly after he resumed office in 2011.