Kentucky Voting Rights Amendment (HB 70)
In most states, after people serve their time, they get their voting rights back automatically.
In Kentucky, even a class D felony is enough to lose someone their voting rights forever unless they can get a pardon straight from the governor.
Kentucky is one of the four most difficult states for a former felon to get their voting rights back. Only a small handful of states (Virginia, Florida, and Iowa) have as difficult a process.
An estimated 243,000 Kentuckians (including about 181,000 who have completed their sentences) can’t vote because of this barrier – disproportionately from low-income communities. This takes away tremendous voting power from these communities.
We believe that after someone has served their time, they should be given back their right to vote – because that’s the fair thing to do and because it makes Kentucky’s Democracy stronger. And it’s only fair that people who work, pay taxes and contribute in other important ways be allowed representation in our government.
Restoring voting rights even contributes to crime prevention. Former Felons who vote are statistically half as likely to recidivate (commit future crimes) than former felons who don’t vote. When you think about it, it makes sense. When a former felon feels like part of a community, they’re less likely to act out against that community.
A solution in House Bill 70
A change is needed in Section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution to correct this problem. HB 70 would allow Kentucky voters to decide whether to grant automatic restoration of voting rights to most former felons once they have paid their debt to society.
"I serve in the U.S. military and could be asked to take a bullet for this democracy, but I'm not allowed to participate in it.
I feel strongly about this country … and it’s disheartening to know that individuals like myself can’t vote. Just because you’ve been convicted of a crime doesn’t mean that you can’t be rehabilitated or just get yourself back together. Particularly with myself, I feel like I’ve changed my life and I should be able to be a part of the election process. By denying that, it’s really denying my fundamental rights."
KFTC member and former felon