WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the start of the new year, state legislators across the country are reconvening to consider new laws for elections and voting rights. One common theme is laws restoring voting rights to individuals with felony convictions, a major priority of voting rights activists in recent years. Newly introduced bills in several states would advance this goal:
- In Kentucky, House Bill 97 proposes to amend the state constitution to restore voting rights for all individuals with felony convictions five years after the completion of their sentences.
- In Minnesota, House File 3 — a package of pro-voting reforms — would restore voting rights automatically upon release from prison.
- In Missouri, four proposals — House Bills 248, 385, 387 and Senate Bill 376 — all improve voting rights for individuals in the criminal justice system, including removing misdemeanor convictions as a reason for disenfranchisement, allowing absentee voting from jail and automatically restoring voting rights upon release from prison.
- In Nebraska, Legislative Bill 20 would restore voting rights as soon as a prison term is up, eliminating the current two-year waiting period. Legislative Resolution 4CA proposes to amend the state constitution to eliminate felony convictions as a cause for disenfranchisement.
- In New York, Assembly Bill 267 would remove felony conviction as a reason for a voter’s registration to be canceled. Senate Bill 316 proposes to amend the state constitution to ensure incarcerated individuals retain the right to vote.
- In Texas, House Bill 355 and Senate Bill 210 would automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison.
- In Virginia, Senate Joint Resolution 223 proposes to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights upon release from prison.
To learn more about the importance of this issue, read our Explainer on felony disenfranchisement.