Iowa governor says she will restore voting rights for paroled felons

The state is the only one in the U.S. to bar all felons from voting.

June 18, 2020, 8:28 AM

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she would sign an executive order to restore voting rights to paroled felons.

Iowa is the only state in the U.S. to bar all felons from voting unless the governor approves a voting rights application.

“We’re working on that right now, sitting down with various groups, listening to what they think is important what is contained in that executive order and then I've got my legal team working on it,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday, according to Radio Iowa.

Reynolds said that she would do so before the November election, according to the radio station.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse, June 2, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall/AP, FILE

Activists said Reynolds, a Republican, told them in a meeting she would sign the executive order by late summer or early fall. Some are demanding the order sooner.

"That's too late! That's too late," activists, including members of Des Moines Black Lives Matter, chanted at the Iowa Capitol after the meeting with Reynolds.

Matthew Bruce, an organizer with Des Moines Black Lives Matter, told reporters that Reynolds "wants time to develop the programs, she wants time to write the language up, but honestly … it's too long."

Reynold's communications director did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Reynolds has been an advocate for rolling back the law. She had proposed a constitutional amendment during the 2019 session on the matter but Republican lawmakers opposed it and it failed in the Senate. Reynolds said in January that passing an amendment would be a priority for her office in the 2020 session.

Iowa had at one point restored voting rights. In 2005, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack restored voting rights to individuals with former felony convictions through an executive order, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

That restoration was then reversed in 2011 by then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

ABC News' Meg Cunningham contributed to this report.

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