Voting Rights bill comes up for a hearing in House

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On Monday, members of the House Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee heard a voting rights bill to restore the right to vote to people with felonies in their past who have served their debt to society.

Primary sponsor Representative George Brown was joined by Representative Charles Booker and Representative Jason Nemes as a united and bipartisan front of legislators testifying in favor of the bill.

Even more powerfully, Shelton McElroy, Tayna Fogle and Amanda Hall testified and shared their personal stories as some of the 312,000 people who lost the right to vote in Kentucky. Allies at the League of Women voters also testified, citing recent studies showing the breadth and depth of Kentucky's peculiar disenfrancisement laws, and the overwhelming public support to overturn them. 

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The room was packed with about 60 supporters including many other people who had lost the right to vote, KFTC members and allies.

Many of the legislators expressed support for voting rights from both sides of the aisle and while some raised concerns, none voiced opposition. Kevin Bratcher, the Republican chair of the committee, noted that he supports the bill and has voted in favor of it many times over the years, and it always passed the House (by a margin of up to 86 to 9). But Republican Senate leaders Robert Stivers and Damon Thayer stopped the bill in the Senate. 

Reps. Booker and Brown expressed their intent to come back next year with a "clean" version of the bill, restoring the right to vote to everyone who has served their debt to society with no exclusions. KFTC supports that step as it makes a cleaner, simpler bill.

The hearing was for discussion only, but we hope to put pressure on legislators over the course of the year to have more serious hearing next year and to pass the bill soon. If passed by the legislature, the issue would go on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment for a vote of the people to ratify it. 

g20190225_144059You can find a full video of the hearing here, more pictures from the event here, and news coverage here, here, here, and here.

Along with a major rally last week, a foundational Voting Rights coalition meeting over the weekend, and numerous presentations and smaller events across the state, it's been a big week for the voting rights campaign. 

Next up, Voting Rights Coalition members are beginning to gear up for a major rally on March 13 at 2 p.m. in the Capitol rotunda. Please mark your calendars and plan on joining us for a program packed with people who have lost the right to vote teling their stories. A major focus of that rally will be on the governor's election later this year.

Additionally, you can join the Facebook page of the Voting Rights Coalition and invite your friends to keep in touch with the campaign. We've grown from 1,500 members to 1,800 members in the last 30 days and we think we can grow to 2,000 soon with your help if you can invite your friends.