DES MOINES, IA – Iowa needs to repeal the lifetime voting ban for people convicted of a crime. Iowans convicted of a crime should regain their right to vote after they have served the sentence for their crime. Many of these individuals made a mistake early in their life and are now productive members of our society, but cannot vote. Bill SSB 3301 addressed this issue, but to the dismay of many the bill died before reaching the Iowa General Assembly.
The 1857 Iowa Constitution, Article II Right of Suffrage, Section 5 states that disqualified persons include a “person convicted of any infamous crime”. Many would consider “infamous crime” as treason or a crime that is punishable by lifetime imprisonment; not drunk driving charges or drug convictions.
Taking away an American citizen’s right to vote for life after they have returned to society is not right and it affects certain demographics more than others. The estimated 50,000 Iowans who are former offenders and who cannot vote represent about 2 to 2.5% of the voters in Iowa. Iowa Libertarians support the work done by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the League of Women Voters to change how Iowa treats its citizens.
We believe that the Iowa Supreme Court should define “infamous crime”. Many former felons are unsure if they can vote and do not vote in fear of breaking the law. We believe voting rights should automatically be restored after a sentence is served, without a lengthy process before approval by the Governor.
Libertarian Party of Iowa