Once someone is convicted of a felony, they lose their voting rights, even after their sentence is complete. In some states, it’s a little easier to reclaim one’s voting rights; in other states, not so much.
Take Iowa, for example.
Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has made Iowa “one of the most difficult states in the nation for felons to vote,” thanks to a rather ridiculous executive order. While Branstad’s predecessor, Democrat Tom Vilsack, created a system whereby felons automatically regained their voting rights once they were discharged from state supervision, Branstad made the process vastly more difficult.
Ex-felons, for example, have to complete a lengthy questionnaire that includes the address of the judge who handled the conviction, pay a filing fee, and submit a full credit report. (If you file a summary of your credit report, the application to restore your rights will be rejected.)
Ed Kilgore’s reaction is the right one.
A credit report to regain the right to vote? That’s about the most revealing reflection of latter-day Republican values I’ve seen in a while…. There’s not a question in my mind that these people would reinstitute poll taxes if the courts and Grover Norquist would let them.
Ed’s post also noted a quote from Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, who said he supports Branstad’s restrictions, because they “send a message to Iowa’s voters that their voting privilege is sacred and will not be compromised.”
Perhaps now would be a good time to remind GOP officials that in our system of government, we’re not supposed to treat voting rights as a “privilege.”
Kevin Drum, meanwhile, summarized the point of all of this: “Felons, of course, tend to be poorer, blacker, and younger than the general population, which means they’re more likely to vote for Democrats than the general population. So who cares if they’ve paid their debt to society? A tendency to vote for Democrats is mighty suspicious behavior all on its own, no?”