New Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear, made good on a campaign promise and just restored the voting rights for more than 140,000 former felons by way of an executive order on Thursday. It was one of his key selling points on progressive issues, in addition to making Medicaid more acceptable.
"My faith teaches me to treat others with dignity and respect. My faith also teaches forgiveness and that is why I am restoring voting rights to over one hundred forty thousand Kentuckians who have done wrong in the past, but are doing right now," Beshear said, "I want to lift up all of our families and I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect and expand the right to vote."
Beshear also lamented the state's voter access issues, asserting that Kentucky has the third highest voter disenfranchisement rate nationwide with nearly 10% of people, and nearly 25% of African-Americans, in the state not being allowed to vote.
The order states that more than 140,000 Kentuckians were unable to vote despite completing their prison terms for non-violent felonies, and that Kentucky was one of two states that did not automatically restore voting rights to former felons. The order does not apply to those incarcerated for treason, bribery in an election and many violent offenses.
[E]arlier this year, the state's House passed a bill that would make it harder for ex-felons to vote by requiring that they pay all financial obligations to the state before heading to the polls, a measure that opponents have likened to a "poll tax."