Kentucky State Rep Calls on Colleagues to Pass Voting Rights for Ex-Felons Bill

January 30, 2020 by Dan McCue

Kentucky State Rep. Charles Booker called on his colleagues in the state legislature Wednesday to pass House Bill 6, a proposed constitutional amendment that could restore the voting rights of tens of thousands of ex-felons who have completed their sentences.

“There is a saying my mother tells me, and it’s that we’re more than our mistakes and that our lives are not defined by our stumbles but how we get back up,” the Louisville Democrat said to a roomful of supporters.  

“We want Kentuckians to be able to get up and get back on their feet and pursue their dreams.  We need to do what should have been done a long time ago and make this constitutional amendment a reality,” he added.

To fulfill Booker’s goal, the bill needs to be approved by both the General Assembly and voters, who would have their say on the measure in November.

Booker’s bill would automatically and permanently restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with a felony record who have served their time.

During his remarks, Booker thanked Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear for recently signing an executive order that restored voting rights for 140,000 Kentuckians with a non-violent felony record.

But Booker believes the state needs to do more.

‘We need to go even further and make this available to anyone after they complete their sentence,” he said. “We also need to remember that what can be given by executive order can also be taken away by executive order. My legislation will keep that from happening with a future governor.”

Booker went on to praise former Reps. Darryl Owens, of Louisville, and Jesse Crenshaw, of Lexington, both of whom championed earlier versions of the amendment during their years as legislators.  

He also noted when the constitutional amendment has been introduced in the state House, it has often received significant bipartisan support.  The last time it was considered, in 2016, the vote was 82-9.

Booker noted that before Beshear’s order, Kentucky and Iowa were the only states still enforcing an effective lifetime voting ban for felons.

“States across the political spectrum recognize that this type of disenfranchisement is wrong and needs to be corrected,” he said.  “Kentucky took a big step forward with Gov. Beshear’s executive order, but we need to complete that journey this legislative session and then in November.”

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