Nebraska lawmakers gave initial approval Friday to a bill that would allow people convicted of felonies to vote when they complete their prison sentences and any parole or probation. Senators voted 28-8 to eliminate the state’s two-year waiting period, which Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha says continues to disenfranchise Nebraska residents who are racial minorities. People of color made up about 15 percent of the state’s population in the most recent census and nearly half of its prisoners. “This disenfranchisement law is at best profoundly outdated,” Wayne said. “At worst, it’s discrimination against minority voters.” The bill would affect about 7,800 felons in Nebraska.
Can Florida claim to be a democracy when one out of every 10 of adult citizens in the state are denied the right to vote because some time in their lives they were convicted of a felony? And 75 percent of those people are out of prison and otherwise living as free members of the community? Florida is one of a handful of states that impose a lifetime voting ban on convicted felons. Their right to vote can only be restored on a case-by-case basis with the approval of the governor and two members of the Board of Executive Clemency — the cabinet — on a petition filed five years after release from prison. Since Scott’s election in 2010, only 2,487 petitions have been granted. Only a few other states come even close to disenfranchising so many ex-felons.
Editorials: The Virginia GOP’s voting rights lawsuit would perpetuate injustice | The Washington Post
Republican leaders of Virginia’s legislature have asked the state’s highest court to block Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons who have served out their sentences — the latest in a series of GOP measures meant to dilute and minimize the electoral clout of African Americans in the commonwealth. The Republican lawsuit rests heavily on the idea that Virginia’s governor is invested with the authority to restore ex-convicts’ voting rights only if the restoration is “individualized” — a word that appears nowhere in the state’s constitution. In fact, the constitution explicitly empowers the governor “to remove political disabilities” arising from “conviction for offenses” and strips voting rights from a felon “unless his civil rights have been restored by the governor.”