Mark Romines

Mark Romines is a Louisville, Kentucky native. He has been happily married for 32 years and has a son, 2 daughters, and 2 grandchildren. Mark has been a member of the Volunteers in Police Services program for 7 years. He is a volunteer usher at the University of Louisville basketball and football games and a member of his local homeowners’ association. Mark is also active with KFTC’s Coal Ash campaign. Mark is a carpenter by trade and served in the military. In his spare time he enjoys watching college sports and riding his motorcycle and ATV.

 
Mark lost his right to vote in Kentucky almost 40 years ago after being convicted on a drug charge in Nebraska. At the time he was not aware that he was considered a felon. “I was placed on probation and didn’t spend any time in jail.” It wasn’t until he received a call from the ATF more than 20 years later asking that he surrender a hunting rifle he had recently purchased that Mark found out he was a former felon.

In 2002, Mark was granted a pardon from the Governor of Nebraska and was once again able to vote in the state of Kentucky. “The process for a pardon was simpler than in Kentucky, but I was still told I would need to beg the Governor, Secretary of State, and County Attorney in order to receive the pardon.”

Although Mark regained his voting rights he decided to fight for the rights of other former felons. “I’m standing up for something I believe in. I’m speaking up for everyone. I’m taking adversity and making something positive of it.  We should have the ability to be treated as citizens and to choose our representatives. There are close to 250,000 people who don’t have the ability to vote. It is my God-given right to put my ballot forward to choose my representatives.”

gIMG_0106When Mark goes to Frankfort to lobby on House Bill 70 he always carries his pardon with him. “People are surprised that I’m a former felon. It’s public record so there’s no reason to cover up parts of my life. I want to stand up and represent people without a voice.”

When asked how his family has reacted to his involvement in the Restoration of Voting Rights campaign Mark says, “ “My wife is supportive and knows what I went through. I encourage her to cast her ballot but I let her make her own decisions about who to vote for.” Mark’s father is a former Kentucky state representative. After he found out that his son didn’t have the right to vote in Kentucky he called Governor Beshear and other public officials who he served with during his time in office and asked them to “do the right thing” and make sure House Bill 70 is passed.

In 2012 Mark ran for a city council position in Louisville. He notes that without the right to vote former felons can’t run for office. Mark says, “I would love to see more former felons run for office. When I ran for office I put my stuff out in the open.”

Mark concluded by saying, “Voting is important because it gives individuals the ability to select their representatives. It was the process I was raised in. When you can’t vote then that’s taxation without representations. If I don’t have the ability to vote no one will listen to me. People will put up their hands and turn the other way”

Mark RominesMark Romines in his home with pictures of his family

If you're a former felon interested in being interviewed about the right to vote, or if you know someone who might be, please contact your local KFTC organizer or Dave Newton Dave@kftc.org 859-420-8919.

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