CEDAR RAPIDS — Gov. Terry Branstad’s policy on restoring felons’ voting rights is part of a “scary” national trend by Republicans, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says.

The senator said Branstad’s executive order on restoring felon voting rights “makes it look like you’re doing something good, but, on the other hand, I think you may be frustrating a lot of people.”

Harkin criticized the reversal of a six-year state policy in which felons automatically regained their voting rights once they were discharged from state supervision.

Iowa is one of four states where felons must apply to the governor to have voting rights restored. The process also requires applicants to submit a credit report.

“I certainly applaud any move to remove the stigma of having been incarcerated,” Harkin said. However, he thinks the new policy increases the likelihood felons will re-offend.

Not only do felons have to pay fines and serve time, “but when you get out, you still have to pay,” Harkin said. “And you have to pay all your life by not being a full member of our society.”

Restricting felons’ voting rights appears to be a strategy of Republican governors and legislators to disenfranchise “the poor, maybe those who don’t speak a lot of English, African-Americans,” Harkin said.

“There’s a national movement among Republicans to do this, and it’s really scary,” he said. “State legislatures mainly under Republicans, well, in fact, I would say, all under Republicans, all, all, 100 percent of the restrictive voting laws as far as having picture IDs and all that all come through Republican governors and Republican legislatures.”

The policy may make it look like the state is giving felons an opportunity to restore their voting rights, “but then you set up all these hoops they have to go through that makes it so difficult.”

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht rejected Harkin’s notion the governor is intentionally making it difficult for felons to regain their voting rights.

“Iowa has a simplified, streamlined process for felons to get their voting rights restored,” Albrecht said. It requires they demonstrate that they have paid restitution to the victim, fines and courts costs.

“It is important that before felons get their voting rights that restitution is paid to victims of their crime,” Albrecht said.

Felons also must obtain a $15 background check and answer 31 questions before Branstad will restore their citizenship rights.

Public records obtained by The Associated Press show fewer than a dozen of the 8,000 felons in Iowa who have finished their prison sentences or been released from community supervision since January 2011 have successfully navigated the process of applying to get their citizenship rights back.

Branstad’s office has denied a handful of others because of incomplete paperwork or unpaid court costs.

The process is new, Albrecht added, “and we anticipate more felons applying for voting rights restoration as we move forward.”

Branstad has no plans at this time to change the process, Albrecht said.

(5) comments

Comment deleted.

Alphamale, another bold faced lie, for which you were reported.

Illinois prisoners convicted of a misdemeanor can vote while in prison, those convicted of a felony cannot.

Here we go - now I'll have to call and report the fact that your children are sneaking ballots into prison to felons, I guess.

What a freakin bold faced lie - I guess we can expect nothing less from you, pathetic little troll. Only TWO STATES allow felons to vote in prison, MAINE and VERMONT.

You realize you are guilty of a felony, if you are aware that your kids or friends are sneaking ballots into jail for felons, and illegally allowing them to vote - and you would lose yours. So, apparently, you are NOT telling the truth, again.

Name one prison, alphamale. or tell the truth for the first time since you posted under the alphamale name.


If you aren’t willing to follow the law yourself, then you can’t demand a role in making the law for everyone else, which is what you do when you vote. The right to vote can be restored to felons, but it should be done carefully, on a case-by-case basis after a person has shown that he or she has really turned over a new leaf, not automatically on the day someone walks out of prison. Read more about this issue on our website here [ http://www.ceousa.org/voting/voting-news/felon-voting/538-answering-the-challenges-to-felon-disenfranchisement ] and our congressional testimony here: [ http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Clegg100316.pdf ]

The issue, roger, is that Braindead is overstepping his bounds. He's refusing to give certain individuals voting rights, no matter what they completed. The last gentleman completed everything braindead demanded, askedfor his rights to be restored, so braindead added more on. Source; Qctimes.com

46 states automatically restore rights, 4 require review. Only Iowa has floating rules.

I want to see consistency, not the Iowa Governor making it personal for some of the felons. Credit Report though? Really? Proof of valid employment is more important, as is proof that the felon has demonstrated he's met the criteria. No racial profiling. Branstad is blocking this gentleman from running for political office, making it a partisan issue. That's just sad and pathetic.

Over taxed

Yo Tom, is this the kind of fella that you want voting without restriction?


Troll, did he do the time? Did he pay restitution? Hmmm? What is your mental issue here?

Should we bring back slavery? Should we bring back the workhouse for small children? You are so pathetic.

If he moves to 46 other states, he has automatic reinstatement, troll.

Until Governor Braindead rewrote the law, and personally went after the last person, Iowans who met the criteria were allowed to vote.

Your racism is showing, Over Taxed.

Who but you stated that they had an issue with that man being able to vote? Hmmm?

Did you even bother reading the article? That man is never be allowed to vote.

Mandatory life sentence, fool. Kidnapping first degree is a Class A felony under Iowa law that carries a sentence of life in prison - per the article you quoted.

we have to hope you aren't representative of Iowa attorney's, LOL. You certainly lack the ability to read. Why all the hate, Over Taxed?

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