The Minnesota Senate is expected to vote this week on a bill that would restore the voting rights of over 50,000 ex-felons.
The “Restore the Vote” bill passed the House Thursday 71-59 with bipartisan support. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says he supports the bill as well.
“These are individuals who have been held accountable for their past decisions, yet they are forced to spend years … shut out of the democratic process,” Rep. Cedrick Frazier said in a press conference after the bill passed the House.
The ACLU has repeatedly sued the state of Minnesota to restore voting rights to ex-felons, and the Minnesota Supreme Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of restricting those rights. Secretary of State Steve Simon has said the state’s position is that the matter must be dealt with at the legislative level and that it was beyond the court's authority to change the law.
“It is a good idea to restore hope, to restore redemption, to cut the cost so that we don’t have to administer this [probation] system.” Minnesota Attorney General Kieth Ellison said at a press conference before the House vote. “We want people to succeed on probation. We want people to win. What we don't want is for people to be locked out, grow cynical.”
If passed, Minnesota would be the 21st state to restore the voting rights of ex-felons before the end of their probation.