A Republican, who is responsible for signing bills passed by the Iowa Legislature, will proceed with a controversial plan to give former inmates a chance to cast their ballot after being released from prison.
Kim Reynolds believes she is delivering on her promise to change lives through giving second chances, and will introduce new rules to restore voting rights for residents who have finished serving their prison sentences.
“By balancing the rights of victims and the importance of redemption, we can move forward with historic change for voting rights in Iowa,” the Iowa governor said in a statement obtained by KCCI News. “This legislation allows us to implement our proposed constitutional amendment restoring the voting rights of Iowans who have completed serving their sentence.”
Reynolds described the privilege of helping to decide the future of politics in Iowa as a fundamental human right.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of being a part of any society, and I am proud of the broad coalition supporting this amendment,” she said.
The first step of the regulatory process will involve the governor drafting and issuing an executive order to automatically restore felon voting rights before the general election on Nov 3.
“We are working on that right now, sitting down with various groups, listening to what they think is important what is contained in that executive order,” she told Radio Iowa. “I have got my legal team working on it.”
If everything proceeds according to plan, Iowa will join the rest of the nation in no longer barring paroled felons from casting their ballot on Election Day.
Reynolds has even consulted with Black Lives Matter protesters to reach an agreement with all affected parties. These meetings have been a “little bumpy.”
“We have got people who are new to the process and I do not mean this in a bad way but just not familiar with who can do what, how it is implemented, how important it is to get it done right,” she said.
Former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack issued a 2005 executive order that automatically restored felon voting rights and remained in place throughout his successor Gov. Chet Culver’s time in office that ended in 2011.
Reynolds does not necessarily plan to use Vilsack’s old executive order as a template as much has changed in the past 15 years.
“Just some things we might be able to address because we know more now,” she said. “[I am] just looking at holistically what that looks like.”