However, under Governor Branstad, felons will once again be required to petition the governor individually to have their voting rights restored. He said, "That means not only serving the time, but paying the fine, the court costs and the restitution to the victim."
The Iowa chapter of the NAACP responded, stating that the requirement was "reminiscent of Jim Crow-era laws that discourage blacks from voting," and likened it to a poll tax. In Iowa, African-Americans make up only 2.8% of the state's population, but account for almost 25% of its prison population.
The Sentencing Project has found that in the last 13 years, 23 states have given convicted felons increased voting rights, adding 800,000 former felons to voter rolls. And in 2010 the New York Times editorialized that "Their Debt is Paid." Regrettably, this move by Iowa’s new governor is a step in the wrong direction.
What are the voting rights of felons in your state? Find out on our website and check out our fact sheet, available in English and Spanish.