Voting Rights News | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Voting Rights News

Lawsuit to restore Voting Rights in Kentucky looking for additional plaintiffs

January 18, 2019 at 01:51pm

KFTC's primary strategy for restoring voting rights to Kentuckians with felonies in their past is to change Kentucky's Constitution to permanently grant the right to vote to all 312,000 Kentuckians who don't have the right to vote now. KFTC's Voting Rights Strategy Team, made up of directly effected people and other members from all over the state, decided additionally get involved in a lawsuit arguing that the current system is arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Our most immediate task is to find people who have lost their right to vote to join our list of plaintiffs for the case. 

If you do not have the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement in Kentucky and you're off of probation and parole, and you'd like to join the lawuit as a plaintiff, please reach out to Dave Newton as soon as possible at Dave@kftc.org or 859-420-8919.  Our deadline to reach out to people to add them is Friday, January 25.

Below is the press release sent out by our allies about the case.

Northern Kentucky MLK Events

Join us on Sunday January 20th at 1 pm for a screening and discussion around the film Selma
January 18, 2019 at 10:44am

Ther Northern Kentucky chapter is celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend by working with allies to share his story and message, and to be standing alongside others in the community who carry on his work and legacy.

Public Supports Automatic Restoration of Voting Rights

January 18, 2019 at 08:43am

Our allies at the League of Women Voters released the results of a public poll of Kentuckians this week showing overwhelming support for Voting Rights for people with felonies in their past.  Their news release is below.

LANG HOUSE, LOUISVILLE, KY:  According to a poll released today by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, a majority of Kentuckians, across political affiliation, gender and age categories, support the automatic restoration of voting rights for persons convicted of felonies who have  completed sentencing.

Overall support is 2-1 with 66% in favor and 32% opposed, according to a December 2018 statewide poll of Kentucky voters.  This polling indicates that the highest support for automatic restoration is from those 18-34 years of age with approval at 83% and disapproval at 16%.
Voting Rights Polling ChartKentucky male voters support approval with 63% approving and 36% not approving. Kentucky women voters support automatic restoration by a large majority with 69% approving and 29% not approving.

KFTC's Voting Rights Strategy Team sets stage for victories

January 7, 2019 at 12:12pm

print-9321This weekend, KFTC's Voting Rights Strategy Team met in Frankfort with 27 members from all over the state coming together to lay a ground work for victories that will restore voting rights to Kentuckians who don't have the right to vote. True to our organizing values, many of the people attending have had their right to vote taken away and are fighting to get it back for themselves and the 312,000 other Kentuckians who can't vote now because of our regressive felony disenfranchisement laws.

Kentucky is one of just two states in the U.S. now that take away voting rights from everyone with any kind of felony in their past for the rest of their life unless they can take the extraordinary step of getting their rights restored through a governor's pardon or expungement. Just last November, Florida 65% of voters approved a ballot amendment supporting the restoration of voting rights, inspiring many in Kentucky to believe more than a decade of effort may be closer to success..

It was an important space for the team members to get to know each other and root themselves in the many reasons why this issue is important to them – from a sense of fairness to a commitment to Democracy, a need to fight racism, or a faith that values redemption. Mostly people talked about the need to get justice for people with felonies in their past to vote because they're personally impacted – by having their own rights taken away or because they know and love someone who without the right to vote.

"I want my rights back. I paid my dues to society. I’ve been out of trouble since 2003. Y’all do the math. That’s 16 years. For me to be told that I don’t have my rights to vote, it crushed me. I will not stop until I get my rights back to vote, because I am somebody. What does democracy look like? This in this room is what democracy looks like. I will not stop the fight until we all get our rights back.” — Corey Logan from Fayette County

Kentuckians act to support miners with black lung disease

November 29, 2018 at 09:24pm

Kentuckians took action today in Washington, DC and London, Kentucky to urge Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of Congress to do right by coal miners with black lung disease, their families and communities.

Voting Rights Victory in Florida Energizes Kentuckians

November 27, 2018 at 04:25pm

Attica Scott RallyAmong a lot of other state and national election results earlier this month, voters in Florida passed an amendment to automatically restore voting rights to 1.4 million citizens with felonies in their past.  An incredible 64 percent of Florida voters voted in for the change.

The amendment restores the right to vote for people with felonies in their past, except people convicted of a handful of the most serious crimes, once they have served their time (including probation and parole).

Florida was previously one of just 4 states in the US (along with Kentucky, Iowa, and Virginia) whose constitutions permanently take voting rights away from all people with felonies in their past unless they’re able to take extraordinary measures to have their voting rights restored individual through a governor’s pardon. 

With the victory in Florida and the Governor of Virginia’s pledge to use his pardoning power to restore all voting rights to people as they complete their sentences, only Kentucky and Iowa are left with the most extreme felony disenfranchisement practices in the US and in the world. 

This big win has energized Kentuckians around restoration of voting rights and several organizations including KFTC are prioritizing our long-running campaign to restore voting rights to people with felonies in their past after they have served their debt to society. 

When states make it easier to vote, more people vote. Kentucky makes voting extra hard.

October 31, 2018
Lexington Herald Leader

Amidst a surge of turnout during early voting this year in several other states, Kentucky is left out: Most Kentucky voters have to wait until Election Day and they will have only 12 hours (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to vote.

Felony Voting Ban: "Double Jeopardy" in Kentucky?

November 5, 2018
Kentucky News Connection

They've paid their dues for mistakes of their past, however an estimated 300,000 Kentuckians are not allowed to cast a ballot on Election Day.

Kentucky is one of four states that takes away the voting power of all people with a felony conviction for their entire lifetime.

Why So Many Kentuckians Are Barred From Voting on Tuesday, and for Life

November 4, 2018
New York Times

Nationwide, some 6.2 million citizens cannot vote or hold office because they have felony records. But only Kentucky, Iowa and Florida impose lifetime bans, and polls indicate that Floridians are poised to approve a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would restore rights to 1.4 million residents who have completed their sentences.

Clarifying who can vote and who can't in Kentucky

September 24, 2018 at 03:57pm

gIMG_5084To register and vote in Kentucky, one needs to be at least 18 years old by Election Day (Tuesday, November 6), you have to live in Kentucky (temporary student housing works), and you have to be a U.S. citizen.

Those are the basics, but things get a little trickier in Kentucky because our criminal justice system plays an unusual role in taking away people's right to vote.

People with felonies in their past –  Can't (generally) Vote.

Kentucky disenfranchises people with felonies in their past and is harsher than almost any state in the US in that regard.  People can request their rights be restored after they've served their time through this form, but few people know about the process and Governor Bevin denies many requests.  People who have had their record expunged of felonies can also vote.  KFTC's long-term goal is to change Kentucky's Constitution so that people get the right to vote back when they've served their debt to society including prison time, probation, and parole, but for now, this remains a barrier for over 312,000 Kentuckians.

People with misdemeanors in their past – Can Vote!

If someone has a misdemeanor in ther past, that doesn't stop them from voting in Kentucky.  Many people in this situation may have been told that they can't register and vote, but they absolutely can

People currently in jail serving for a misdemeanor – Can't Vote

This disenfranchisement comes from section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution along with felony disenfranchisement.

People serving probation and parole for a misdemeanor – Can Vote!

Even though you're still serving your time, there's nothing stopping you from registering and voting in this case.

People in jails pre-trial who were charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor – Can Vote!

If you're in jail because you're awaiting trial or sentencing for any offense (and you've never been convicted of a felony), you do have the right to vote.  That's a big deal, because in many Kentucky jails about 70% of the population is pre-trial.

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