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IOWA

CANDIDATES

Theresa Greenfield for Senator, running against Republican Joni Ernst

FEBRUARY 2020

 

Iowa: Iowa Republicans passed a bill out of state Senate committee that would ensure some citizens remain permanently barred from voting if the GOP-run legislature passes a future constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to people who have completed their sentences for a felony conviction.

Currently, Iowa is the only state to impose a lifetime ban for any felony, which can only be lifted if the governor individually restores a citizen's voting rights. However, the state House almost unanimously passed a constitutional amendment in 2019 to automatically restore voting rights upon completion of any prison, parole, or probation sentence for a felony conviction. That amendment died, however, after Republican senators balked.

Their newest bill would maintain this lifetime disenfranchisement thanks to a measure that is effectively a poll tax: requiring the payment of any court-ordered restitution to victims, similar to a measure passed by Florida Republicans last year. The bill would also require people convicted of the most serious offenses such as murder to win the governor's consent to regain their voting rights. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has very rarely exercised that power even though she could issue a blanket executive order restoring voting rights to everyone who has served their sentences.