Voting Rights Updates

Voting Rights Rally.JPGWe’re continuing to advance our campaign to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society – through field work, citizen lobbying, and other actions.

Here are a few highlights from recent weeks:

-  Victory in Virginia! - In national news, the Republican Governor of Virginia Robert McDonnell took some big steps to restore voting rights to former felons by executive pardon.  The measure excludes Virginians convicted of more serious crimes including some drug related crimes (about 40% total).  It’s also not a blanket measure, so former felons still need to be identified individually to get their rights back, but it’s still a big step forward.  This most recent move leaves Kentucky arguably farther behind than any other US state in having a navigable re-enfranchisement process.   You can learn more here, here, here, and here.

- Lobbying Senators - We’ve held strategy meetings throughout the state focused on reaching key Republican senators and building their support for House Bill 70.  Please contact your local KFTC organizer if you’d like to be part of the next round of meetings with legislators.  Passing HB 70 is still our primary goal in restoring voting rights to former felons and we can do a lot of key workoutside of the General Assembly to pass it.

- Engagement in the Secretary of State’s election input meetings.  We don't have many KFTC members in Paducah, but Julie Copeland came out to yesterday's Secretary of State election input meeting there and talked about the need to restore voting rights to former felons.  Much like the Northern Kentucky meeting, there was broad support in the room for voting rights and a lot of the media's follow-up questions focused on that.  The next input meeting is this Thursday in Louisville.  

- Constitution USA on PBS nationally aired an episode on May 21st that included a long piece about voting rights in Kentucky and an interview with KFTC leader Tayna Fogle.  Here's the link to the episode online.  You can skip to 18:30 or so for the beginning of the section on voting rights.

- KFTC’s Voter Empowerment Strategy Team has engaged in a broader conversation trying to envision what an authentic participatory Democracy would look like and what steps we as the Commonwealth of Kentucky could take to get there.  This means that we’ve been looking more seriously and broadly at other laws related to voting access like same-day voter registration, longer voting hours, campaign finance, and more.   If you'd like to serve on KFTC's statewide Voter Epowerment Strategy team in the coming year, nominate yourself to be on the team at your local chapter annual meeting this month. 

- We made voting rights presentations at the Chrysalis House and Bluegrass Reentry Council in Lexington.  At both we met former felons interested in getting more involved in our work. 

- We've held continued interviews with former felons across the state to help capture and tell people’s stories.  Watch this blog and our newsletter for the results. 

We also have a statewide Voting Rights Coalition meeting coming up on Wednesday, June 19th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the UFCW Union Hall (330 Pinecroft Drive) in Louisville.  KFTC members and representative from other organizations who have been working on this issue are welcome to attend.    There's also a Facebook event, so if you're on Facebook you can invite your friends. 

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