By the narrowest of margins, a bill to return the right to vote for felons faster than would happen otherwise stalled again Thursday at the Capitol. The bill was put on hold following an 8-7 show of hands vote in the House Public Safety and Security Policy Committee, with Rep. Nick Zerwas joining all Democrats on the losing side. Zerwas, R-Elk River, is a bill cosponsor. The proposal could arise later as a potential amendment on the House floor to another bill, but the likelihood of success is slim. A companion measure has previously gotten through the Senate — though not since Republicans took control in 2017 — but the House has typically been the bigger struggle. The bill would change the law so felons would be able to vote once they are no longer incarcerated.
“We’re expecting them to be good, upstanding citizens and one of the basic sort of impacts of being a good citizen is participating in our voting,” said Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis and the chief sponsor of the legislation.
Bill supporters said as many as 50,000 people would be affected by a quicker restoration of voting rights. Dehn said 60 percent of those people live outside Hennepin and Ramsey counties.