Voting Rights News

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.

Voting Rights work in Louisville over the weekend

September 8, 2018 at 09:17pm

KFTC's members attended today's Rally for Recovery in Louisville, hosted by PAR (People Advocating Recovery).  It's an annual event organized by people in long term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, and friends with the goal of building community and reducing the negative perceptions associated with addiction recovery.  It has been PAR's experience that the road to recovery is filled with obstacles that hinder reintegration into society and one of those obstacles is felony disenfranchisement.  Kentucky is one of just a handful of states where if someone is convicted of a felony, even something not serious enough to warrant one day in jail in some cases, they lose the right to vote for the rest of their lives unless given the right to vote back by a governor's pardon.  

That's not right.  We think that all people should be allowed to vote and at the least, former felons ought to be given the right to vote back after they've served their debty to society.  

KFTC members were on hand at today's event to help people who could to register to vote and we circulated petitions to lawmakers to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society.

In all, we got nearly 300 petition signatures and several voter registrations, plus we connected with several key ally organizations and former felons who are willing to tell their stories to move this issue forward.

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Watch Anthony Thigpenn's keynote address to KFTC's 2018 Annual Meeting

August 22, 2018 at 03:12pm

On August 4, Anthony Thigpenn addressed the hundreds of KFTC members at our 2018 Annual Membership Meeting. Thigpenn is a Los Angeles-based community organizer with more than 30 years of experience. He currently leads California Calls, a powerful alliance of 31 organizations in 12 counties around the state. The primary mission of California Calls is to achieve progressive, long-term tax and fiscal policy reform by engaging underrepresented, low-income voters in state public policy decision-making.

Anthony is widely recognized as a leading expert in grassroots, civic engagement technology and programs. He ran successful field campaigns for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass, State Senator Kevin de León, and former City Councilmember Martin Ludlow, among others.

We are excited to share his speech and question and answer session with you below. 

SOKY members work hard to build power for Tuesday's primary election

May 17, 2018 at 02:02pm
Southern Kentucky

The Southern Kentucky chapter has been hard at work preparing for the May 22 primary elections and building the grassroots power we will need for November.

4th Annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy

October 2, 2017 at 10:07am

The cold and chilly weather brought by hurricanes ceased in Louisville the 4th annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy block party. The energy of friends, neighbors, vendors, and performers were only rivaled by the clear, bright sky. Taking place at the Jefferson County Chapter headquarters of 745 Lampton Street, the block party proved to be another success.

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Louisville has experienced many ups and downs of the current political climate in the nation. Widespread violent crime, threats to undocumented immigrants, continued environmental injustices, and many other issues are evidence of the uphill battle that is present. Yet, hundreds gathered in Smoketown to celebrate gains in affordable housing, community revitalization, and unified organizing efforts across various issues. The Smoketown neighborhood is no different in its successes – it has maintained a strong momentum toward creating a neighborhood where all residents thrive.

Support efforts to restore ex-felon voting rights

February 23, 2017
Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky is one of only four states that ban former felons from voting, ranking third in the rate of disenfranchisement overall and first in disenfranchisement of African-Americans. Many states allow persons to vote once their sentences have been served and some never take away voting rights, allowing prisoners to vote.

We Stood For Kentucky

February 13, 2017 at 05:24pm

Showing that we are solid as a rock, rooted like a tree and standing strong, hundreds of KFTC members and friends took to the halls of the state capitol on Tuesday to Stand For Kentucky.