LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — The Linn County Auditor’s Office is working to notify felons on how to get the right to vote again after Governor Kim Reynolds made steps to simplify the process.
In March, Gov. Reynolds announced a simplified application process for felons looking to regain their right to vote in Iowa.
In order for an individual with a felony to regain that right, they have to petition the governor with an application. Reynolds shortened the requirements in the application which includes doing away with background checks and fees associated with it.
“Here’s a simplified form, but who knows about this form?,” Linn County Auditor Joel Miller asks. “Nobody knows. We’ve got to get it out to them. Why not send the form out, try and identify them?
Miller sees it as his job to get people as engaged as possible. With the shortened requirements in place, his office sent out the applications and information about the changes to around 3,000 felons in the county.
“We’re trying to be proactive and if people want to apply for restoration of rights, we’d like them to do it now before we get up to elections so they don’t come up to us just before and say ‘Hey, I want to vote,” and we’re like “Well, it’s going to take 45 days to process this’,” Miller said.
In order to be eligible to vote again, those with felonies must have already completed their parole or probation.
“If they’ve served their time, then why not restore their rights? The sooner we get the felons re-integrated back into society, I feel like that’s better for all of us that they are participating and care about the elections and who’s in government,” Miller said.
Reynolds has been an advocate for restoring felon voting rights and has pushed for a constitutional amendment to for them to automatically eligible to vote again after finishing their sentences. However, that amendment failed to pass in this legislative session.
While Miller praises the move by Reynolds to shorten the application process in the meantime, he said it’s still a barrier.
Miller said he’d like to see Reynolds sign an executive order to pass the amendment, something other Democrats have vocally supported.
Amending a constitution is a lengthy process. If it did pass, without the use of an executive order, it would not take effect until 2022, at the earliest.
Iowa is one of only two states that makes felons petition for the right to vote. Kentucky is the second.
A link to the application form can be found here.