Governor Kim Reynolds today said there is no “hard and fast deadline” for her to sign an executive order to automatically restore felon voting rights before the November 3rd General Election.
“It’s a priority of mine. We have an important election coming up,” Reynolds said. “…It will be done in a timely manner so that people have an opportunity to participate in this election.”
Black Lives Matter organizer Matthew Bruce today said the group is seeking immediate action, to ensure felons have time to register, get their voter registration cards and figure out where to vote.
“Even when people get the right to vote, they still have to educated on the process, all of them have to be processed into the system,” Bruce said.
The protesters were back at the Capitol today, chanting outside the door to the governor’s office as Reynolds held a news conference inside. The activists pulled out their smart phones and each was guided by Bruce to send an email to a member of the governor’s staff.
“We have waited long enough. The governor must act now,” he said, urging his colleagues to capitalize every word in that second sentence.
For the past two years Reynolds has been lobbying to amend the state’s constitution so felons automatically get voting rights when they’ve completed their sentences, but the governor said she made it clear to legislators she intended to issue the executive order on felon voting rights for the 2020 election, since amending the constitution takes years.
“But I think it’s really important that we do it right and that we get the verbiage right because that’s the problem with executive orders, whoever’s sitting in my chair, it changes based on who’s there next,” Reynolds said during her news conference today, “and so the more we can think about some of those things and some of the things that we need to do to make sure that we’re doing it appropriately is really important to me.”
Bruce spoke outside the governor’s office, shortly after those comments from Reynolds.
“We’re not playing no more. Give my family that right to vote,” Bruce said, to cheers.
The latest estimate indicates as many as 60,000 Iowans are felons who’ve completed their sentences, but have not had their voting rights restored. Iowa is the only state left which requires released felons to apply to the governor to get the right to vote.