Restoring voting rights for released felons in Minnesota
Restoring voting rights for released felons is a controversial matter between many states, however, Minnesota is changing the narrative. According to the United States elections project, Minnesota has one of the highest voter turn-out rates during elections. But now released felons will add to the number of voter.
Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon, talked more about this historic piece of legislation. “In Minnesota, people who have left prison behind, they’ve already done their time. They now get their right to vote back.” Simon said. “Minnesota joins a ton of other states that have already headed in that direction Iowa, North Dakota, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, that are either there or heading there.”
According to Simon this move of allowing released felons to vote is a great first step to reintegrating into society. “There’s been a ton written about and studied about the fact that, when people feel a sense of ownership and belonging and investment in the community, they are far less likely to re-offend and get back in prison.” Simon said. “We don’t want them to end up back where they were for a whole lot of reasons. And so it’s in everyone’s interest that they can at least get the opportunity to get things right, an opportunity to have a job, an opportunity to have housing and an opportunity to vote what they do with it.”
However, restoring voting rights for felons is not the only part of this piece of legislation. There is now more protections for election volunteers and workers. If election workers in Minnesota are harassed, or threatened it would result in a gross misdemeanor. Also if someone spreads false information with the deliberate intent of impeding a Minnesota voter’s access to the polls, it would result in a gross misdemeanor.
Some of the other parts of the restoring rights to felons’ legislation is automatic registration. Minnesotans who are eligible to vote, will automatically be able to register to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, unless they opt out. Also Minnesotans from the ages of 16 and 17, will soon be able to pre-register to vote. If they meet all other eligibility requirements, they will be automatically registered to vote the day they turn 18.