Saturday, October 19, 2013

Voting Rights Hearing in Frankfort Tuesday

This is not only the first legislative hearing in Kentucky on restoring felon voting rights that will take the testimony of actual former felons, but apparently it will also deal with proposals to shrink voting rights in Kentucky with new voter suppression laws.

Be there, and make you voice heard.

From KFTC:
Next Tuesday the campaign to restore voting rights to former felons in Kentucky who have paid their debt to society will take an important step forward. The Interim Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs will hold a hearing in Frankfort. KFTC members and allies will be on hand to testify about the importance of restoring voting rights. Join us if you can, and wear a green KFTC shirt if you have one!

Legislative Committee Hearing on Voting Rights
Tuesday, October 22 at 1 p.m.
Room 171 of the Capitol Annex, Frankfort
Take Action
Whether or not you can make it to Frankfort, please show your support today by calling the legislators on this Task Force, along with your own legislators, to let them know you support restoring voting rights to former felons.
Call the legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181. Ask to leave a message for all members of the Interim Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs plus your own senator and representative.
Suggested message: “The right to vote is essential to a healthy democracy. Please support House Bill 70, a constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to former felons who have paid their debt to society.”
Thanks for helping to build a
Healthy Democracy in Kentucky
Background information about restoration of voting rights
For more information on restoring voting rights to former felons, visit KFTC’s webpage on the issue with links to additional resources and reading materials. We also have background documents available on voting rights and on voter identification that describe the current state of these issues in Kentucky
For more information on voter ID laws:

√    Article ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about voter id laws’ by ProPublica

√    The Brennan Center for Justice webpage on voter id, including links to several studies and reports they have conducted on the issue.
Kentucky is one of a small handful of states (including Florida, Iowa and Virginia) that permanently bar any citizen with a felony record from voting unless he or she receives an individual pardon from the governor. As a result, a nearly quarter-million Kentuckians with felony convictions are currently barred from voting.
The loss of voting rights disproportionately affects low-income and communities of color. Kentucky has the second highest African-American disenfranchisement rate in the country. One in five voting age African-Americans cannot vote in Kentucky.
HB 70 is a proposed constitutional amendment that, once passed by voters, would restore voting rights to most former felons after they have served their full sentence. The measure has passed the Kentucky House with wide bipartisan support for seven years, but has not been given a hearing in the Senate.
More information about Tuesday’s hearing
In addition discussing restoring voting rights for former felons, the task force will hear testimony on Tuesday from the conservative Heritage Foundation and other proponents of stricter voter identification laws. While we will listen carefully to what they have to say, it is deeply concerning that legislators appear to be exploring policies that have the affect of limiting access to the ballot box.
A recent push to pass more restrictive voter ID laws in many states has created barriers to voter participation. Such policies have been shown to have a disproportionate impact on the elderly, low-income and people of color. Roughly 21 million U.S. citizens don’t have government issued photo IDs, as required by these restrictive laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Many cannot afford to pay for the required documentation, or they lack transportation or an original birth certificate. As such, these laws impede access to the polls and are at odds with the fundamental right to vote.
Kentucky already has a voter ID law that protects our election process while also being flexible enough to avoid unjust barriers to voting. In our state, all voters must currently produce identification or be known by a precinct officer prior to voting. Currently, several types of identification can be shown, including a driver’s license, Social Security card, credit card, any ID issued by the county, or another form of ID containing both picture and signature.
KFTC has taken a position that more restrictive voter ID laws in Kentucky would be an unnecessary and unacceptable step backwards. Kentuckians do not want to go backwards by unjustly restricting the right to vote. Rather, we must go forward together by expanding access to the ballot box. Our legislature should start by passing HB 70, a constitutional amendment restoring the right to vote to people who have served their full sentence for a felony conviction.

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