The application form that convicted felons in Iowa must complete to seek restoration of their voting rights in Iowa has been made simpler, Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday, but voting rights advocates argue the process is still one of the most burdensome in the country. The streamlined, one-page form reduces the number of questions an applicant must answer from 29 to 13, Branstad said, which makes the process more efficient and convenient. “When individuals commit felonies, it is important that they demonstrate that they have fully satisfied their sentences and have paid their court-imposed financial obligations and be current on restitution if it’s required before receiving their voting rights back,” Branstad said in a statement.
Iowa is one of only three states — along with Kentucky and Florida — that disenfranchise convicted felons for life unless their rights are restored. In Iowa and Kentucky the governor may restore rights. Florida requires approval of the governor and two other Cabinet members. But restoration of voting rights has surfaced as an important issue due to it being a presidential election year, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order last week restoring the voting rights for 200,000 convicted felons before the November election.
In Iowa, about 57,000 felons have been disqualified from participating in elections or running for office in Iowa.