Wednesday 26 October 2016

Should former Felons be able to vote in US election?

US Election

Former offenders might not able to vote in the US election.

In June this year Iowa's top court ruled that people who have been convicted of felonies can constitutionally be banned from voting for the rest of their lives — even if they've already served their full sentences.

The case was brought by Kelli Jo Griffin, a mother of four who challenged the lifetime voting ban following her 2008 conviction for "delivery of cocaine," a nonviolent drug offense for which she received a term of probation.

After Griffin completed her sentence, she registered to vote and cast a ballot in a local election, but an auditor rejected her vote due to her prior conviction. Local authorities even prosecuted her for perjury for registering to vote, a charge for which she was later acquitted at trial.

The state Supreme Court ultimately held that her conviction for the drug crime disqualified Griffin from voting under the state constitution, and left it up to the people of Iowa to amend the constitution — or maybe pass a new law — to eliminate this impediment.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union lamented the Iowa Supreme Court's decision.

"This ruling means that Iowa will continue to serve as a notorious outlier when it comes to restricting people's right to vote," said Julie Ebenstein, an attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

Iowa, Kentucky and Florida are the only three states that impose a permanent voting ban on former felony offenders, according to the ACLU.



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