According to the Brennan Center of the New York University of Law, Kentucky took several large steps backward on December 22, 2015. That is when State Governor Matt Bevin issued an executive order that bars the voting rights for life of felons.
Before this executive order was granted, the former governor, Steve Beshear, issued an order to restore felon voting rights to those felons whose convictions were categorized under non-violent crimes and who had completed their sentences or met other criteria. Rights, under the former order, were reinstated as soon as felons completed their sentence. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s new order supplants the process of the state’s previous voting rights procedure.
Except for the felons whose rights were re-established under the former governor’s order, thousands of Kentuckians who have felony convictions now are barred from the voting booth or ballot box unless they apply to the governor’s office to have their electoral rights restored. Because of the new order, Kentucky, along with Iowa and Florida, is one of three US states that permanently removes the right to vote to people with past felonies.
Before the recent executive order, the restoration of voting rights had been supported by a varied coalition of professionals in law enforcement, influential politicians and religious leaders. Some of the supporters have included the American Probation and Parole Association, the state ACLU and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.
Felon Voting Law in Kentucky
According to the Kentucky Constitution Section 145, persons who cannot vote in the state include individuals convicted of treason, bribery in an election or a felony. Civil rights may be restored by an executive pardon. Persons who, at the time of an election, are in confinement for a penal offense may not vote as well. You can refer to this link for further information.
How a Felon in Kentucky Can Restore Their Voting Rights
On November 24, 2015, the then-Governor of Kentucky, Steven L. Beshear, by executive order 2015-871, restored the voting rights of felons of non-violent crimes who had completed their sentence, parole or probation. Felons could vote upon the payment of any court-ordered fines or restitution.
Almost a month later, on December 22, 2015, the newly-elected Governor of Kentucky, Matthew G. Bevin, issued a new executive order (#2015-052). The executive order rescinded the prior executive order and prevented felons from voting upon the completion of their sentence. In order to seek the right to once again vote or to obtain voting rights, felons, upon release from prison or jail, must apply to the Governor’s office to have their voting rights reinstated. You can reference these orders by clicking on this link.
Other Resources For Felons in Kentucky
Jobs For Felons: If you’re a felon looking for a job in Kentucky, we have all of the resources you need including job listings by city, companies that hire felons, and our own job board. Click Here to learn more.