Report: Felony Voting Law Bars Over 300K from Polls

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A report published by The League of Women Voters of Kentucky on Monday says that over 300,000 residents are barred from voting due to Kentucky’s lifetime voting bans on people with felony convictions.

The report says the figure (312,000 residents,) is an increase of 68,000 residents since their report in 2013, and 126,000 since the 2006 report.

Titled, “Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” the report also says Kentucky is third in the nation in the rate of disenfranchisement, and first in the disenfranchisement of African Americans.

Other notable figures include:

  • One of every 11 adults in Kentucky is ineligible to vote due to a previous felony conviction, a rate of 9.1 percent, nearly three times the national average of 2.47 percent or one in 40.
  • Among African Americans, almost one in four is disenfranchised, a rate of 26.2 percent, more than triple the national rate of 9.1 percent.
  • 92 percent of those disenfranchised live in the community and 78 percent have completed their full sentence.

Kentucky is one of four states to ban former felons from voting.

The League of Women Voters of Kentucky also included recommendations for alleviating disenfranchisement of individuals with felony convictions, suggesting:

  • A ballot measure to allow Kentucky voters to decide whether people living in the community and who have completed their full sentence have their voting rights restored automatically;
  • Increased assistance to eligible persons with the restoration of voting rights application process;
  • Increasing public education about the process of restoring voting rights and available resources to help those wishing to vote;
  • Annual release of data on the number of people applying for restoration of voting rights and expungement of felony records and the number approved and denied
  • Reduction and/or waiver of the $500 application fee for expungement of felony records.

“The League was created by women who struggled many years seeking the right to vote,” said Nita Smith, co-president of the state League. “We believe citizens who have made a mistake should have that right reinstated once they have completed their full sentence and/or parole. The League of Women Voters believes that our society is stronger when all of our citizens vote.”

The entire report can be accessed by clicking here.

Categories: News, State News