Restore the Vote legislation highlighted at the Capitol

Minnesotans lose the right to vote until they have been released from probation or supervision, even while they are living in the community and never spent any time in prison or only served a short sentence. This unfair law disenfranchises more than 53,000 Minnesotans as they are unable to vote due to a felony conviction on their record. Current law unnecessarily and excessively discourages positive participation in society, perpetuates racial disparities, and adds costs and complications to voting.

Senate and House legislators were joined by a large group of advocates for a press conference and rally this week to highlight legislation that would restore the right to vote for people who have served time and are living in their community. The legislation would allow citizens to vote after they are released from jail rather than having to wait for the date they complete parole or supervised release, which can be many years.

Studies show that restoring the vote to people with felony convictions can produce tangible benefits for both individuals and communities. Allowing people to vote while on community supervision may help to reduce recidivism – research links pro-social activities like voting to desistance in crime. 

By moving to this model, Minnesota would join the 13 other states that have taken this major step forward in making sure access to democracy, representation, and rehabilitation in society is possible for all Americans. After all, the right to vote forms the core of American democracy. (SF 856)