Home » Restoring rights for felons a rare bipartisan voting change in Nebraska

Restoring rights for felons a rare bipartisan voting change in Nebraska

by The Grio

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — T.J. King had candidates and causes to support, but couldn’t vote in Nebraska’s last election.

An outreach specialist with the Nebraska AIDS Project, King came off probation in August after serving time for drug and theft convictions. In many states, he could have voted in the November general election, but Nebraska requires a two-year wait after the completion of a felony sentence before someone can register.

King’s first chance to vote will be in the 2024 presidential election season — unless a legislative proposal introduced in January that would remove the two-year requirement passes and becomes law. That likely would change the timeline for the restoration of voting rights for King and thousands of other Nebraskans.

Voting, King said in an interview, gives “a little bit of your strength back and a little bit of your voice back. Being able to vote, being able to have a say in what happens in your society, in your state, is extremely important.”

Restoring the voting rights of former felons drew national attention after Florida lawmakers weakened a voter-approved constitutional amendment and after a new election police unit championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis arrested 20 former felons. Several of them said they were confused by the arrests because they had been allowed to register to vote.

Attempts like those to discourage ex-felons from voting appear to be an outlier among the states, even as some Republican-led states continue to restrict voting access in other ways.

At least 14 states have introduced proposals this year focused on restoration of voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. An Oregon proposal would allow felons to vote while incarcerated. A Tennessee bill would automatically restore voting rights once a sentence is completed, except for a small group of crimes. Texas legislation would restore voting rights to…

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