DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed an executive order granting convicted felons the right to vote, ending Iowa’s place as the only remaining state to broadly deny voting rights to felons.
The Republican governor signed the order Wednesday after promising in June that she would take such action.
Reynolds says she’ll continue to press the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment restoring felon voting rights, which couldn't be reversed by a future governor. She proposed that last year but couldn’t get Republican state senators to support it.
The executive order restores the right to vote for Iowans who have already completed their felony sentences. It requires residents to complete any prison, probation, parole, or special sentence.
The order excludes automatic restoration for more serious crimes, such as murder, requiring those people to seek individual restoration but does not require repayment of victim restitution before they could vote.
"Today we take a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of redemption, second chances and the need to address inequalities in our justice system,” said Reynolds. “The right to vote is the cornerstone of society and the free republic in which we live. When someone serves their sentence, they should have their right to vote restored automatically. We’re going to continue to advocate for a constitutional amendment and make this major milestone permanent. Getting things done involves coming to the table and I want to thank the broad and diverse coalition who has been working on this with me for years.”