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Governor Beshear Restores Voting Rights To 140,000 Ex-Felons

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear passed an important bill on Tuesday that will provide nearly 140,000 ex-inmates with voting rights.

The current prison system punishes and destroys the lives of those who serve their sentence. Rather than provide rehabilitation, convicts are placed in a perpetual cycle that they can never escape from, and one that often leads to future crime.

Beshear wanted to put a stop to that and signed an executive order that will provide access to voting for ex-inmates throughout the state.

“The right to vote and the right to hold office are fundamental foundations of our democracy,” Beshear said in a press conference, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Yet in Kentucky, it is estimated that we deny those rights to over 180,000 thousand adults. Why? Simply because at some point in their lives they’ve been in trouble with the law. We ignore the fact that they have paid for their crimes.”

Think Progress reports:

On December 8th, Beshear will be replaced by Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R). However, during his gubernatorial campaign against Jack Conway (D), Bevin told Insider Louisville that he too supported automatically restoring the voting rights of ex-felons after they were released. Bevin even declared that he would be willing to lobby opposition within his own party on the issue.

Only a few other states, including Iowa and Florida, still automatically disenfranchise people who have been convicted of a felony. Virginia, another state that has historically stripped ex-felons of their voting rights, has taken steps away from a blanket ban.

Prior to today’s announcement, the only way an ex-felon could get his or her voting rights restored was to receive a gubernatorial pardon.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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