DES MOINES– Today, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Executive Order 7, restoring the voting rights of thousands of Iowans who have completed their felony sentences.
“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 Gov. 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.”
“The NAACP fervently believes that the right to participate in the political process is a defining aspect of citizenship and our democracy here in Iowa and America. Governor Kim Reynolds’ action today in issuing this Executive Order restoring the right to vote to thousands with felony records is an act of tremendous significance to Iowans, to those whose right to vote is being restored, to be sure, but also to their families and to all of us,” said Betty C. Andrews, President of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, which for several years has led advocacy efforts to ensure the right to vote for individuals with a felony background. “This action will benefit people regardless of race or ethnicity, but with the grave racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it will very significantly benefit African Americans and other people of color.”
“Our laws should pursue, as a primary goal, the safety of our citizens and that certainly includes a system of punishment. However, no one is kept safe by withholding the right to vote from an individual that has completed their sentence. This executive order not only restores the rights of citizenship but I hope it also elevates the responsibilities of citizenship,” said Drew Klein, Iowa State Director, Americans for Prosperity.
Executive Order 7 restores the right to vote for Iowans who have already completed their felony sentences and announces that Governor Reynolds will continue to do so on a daily basis for those who complete their sentence in the future. The Executive Order requires Iowans to complete any prison, probation, parole, or special sentence. And individuals who were convicted of felony homicide offenses are excluded from the restoration and must continue to individually apply for restoration.