One of the first actions Governor Terry Branstad took after being sworn into office last week was to rescind an executive order that automatically restored voting rights to felons who had served their jail time.
Branstad, a Republican, says he plans to go back to a system of restoring voting rights that he used during his previous stint as governor. Branstad says if someone commits a felony, they need to pay back their debt to society.
“That means not only serving the time, but paying the fine, the court costs and the restitution to the victim,” Branstad said. He says crime victims are left out when a criminal gets their voting rights back without paying the restitution.
He says victims are too often the forgotten people in the criminal justice system, and he says when the judge orders fines and restitution it is “critically important” that people recognize they have the responsibility to pay them.
Branstad says requiring the payment before citizenship is restored is an incentive for people to follow through. Branstad says many people who commit crimes will unfortunately not pay fines or restitution if you don’t enforce the rule requiring them to pay before they can vote again.
Branstad says there are millions of dollars of unpaid fines and court costs that need to be collected. The executive order Branstad rescinded was signed on July fourth of 2005 by then Governor Tom Vilsack.