UPDATE: On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Minnesota Senate passed House File 28 on a 35 to 30 vote. The bill now goes to Gov. Tim Walz (D) for his signature. Once enacted, over 50,000 Minnesotans will regain the right to vote.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Democratic-controlled Minnesota House passed House File 28, a bill that would restore voting rights to individuals on parole, probation or community release due to a felony conviction. Under current Minnesota law, those individuals lose voting rights until the completion of their entire sentence, which can stretch years after they return to their communities. H.F. 28 would move Minnesota’s policy in line with 22 other states, where people convicted of felonies regain voting rights immediately upon release from incarceration.
According to bill sponsor Rep. Cedrik Frazier (DFL), there are over 50,000 Minnesotans throughout the state that are on probation or parole, all of whom are stripped of the right to vote.
“Restoring voting rights to those convicted of a felony crime but no longer incarcerated is one of the ways to help facilitate reintegration into our communities by giving these individuals their voices back to participate in the electoral process,” Frazier noted at a public hearing.
H.F. 28 also outlines the responsibility of the secretary of state to procure “accurate and complete information” on rights restoration changes and the expectation for correctional facility officials to provide robust notice of voting rights as part of the re-entry process following incarceration.
After passing 71 to 59 in the House, the bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled Minnesota Senate. The bill text in H.F. 28 is nearly identical to a subsection in the Democracy for the People Act, an omnibus pro-voting bill supported by Minnesota’s new Democratic trifecta that is also likely to advance this session.