Minnesota lawmakers move to restore voting rights to parolees

by sam

Samuel Case, FISM News

Last week, the Minnesota House voted to restore voting rights to felons who are still serving parole.

On Thursday, the state House of Representatives passed the “Restore the Vote” legislation 71-59. It now heads to the Democrat-led Senate, where it is likely to pass. 

Democratic Governor Tim Walz says he will sign the legislation if it passes both chambers, Inforum reports.

The text reads as follows:

An individual who is ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction has the civil right to vote restored during any period when the individual is not incarcerated for the offense. If the individual is later incarcerated for the offense, the individual’s civil right to vote is lost only during that period of incarceration. 

Under current Minnesota law, felons do not have voting rights restored until after their full sentence is served, including parole or other forms of supervised release

Democratic Representative Cedrick Frazier said the legislation would “remove some historic policies and barriers and allow folks to fully participate in the democratic process.” He noted that 21 other states have already passed similar legislation. 

Republican opponents argue the bill should have exceptions for violent offenders and sexual abusers. Others argue the loss of voting rights is part of the felon’s punishment and shouldn’t be removed.

“I don’t mind them voting when their debt to society is completed,” said Republican Representative Brian Johnson, noting that some felonies don’t require any jail time.

If signed into law, its estimated 50,000 felons will have their voting rights restored.