ST. PAUL, Minn. – Yesterday, a bill that would restore the right to vote to Minnesotans who have been released from incarceration after being convicted of felony charges was heard for the first time in the Senate Elections Committee. Right now, these individuals lose the right to vote until after their probation or parole is completed. In response, Senator Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan), Chair of the Elections Committee, released the following statement:
“Many Minnesotans across the state who have been released after incarceration for felony convictions still do not have the right to vote until after their parole, probation, or community supervision is completed. This can often last several years after incarceration – meaning these same Minnesotans who are now actively engaged in society are dutifully paying taxes for years to a government chosen by a democratic process they are prohibited from participating in. This form of voter disenfranchisement withholds the right to vote for 50,000 Minnesotans and disproportionately impacts Black, Brown, and rural communities.
Restore the Vote (SF 26) would give this community their right to vote back once their time in incarceration has been completed as opposed to after parole or probation. This bill is long overdue yet incredibly timely. Just a couple days ago, we observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day – who also advocated for the expansion of voting rights. I’m pleased this long-fought dream of his is finally moving forward in the Senate and will bring Minnesota one step closer to joining the 21 other states who have already passed Restore the Vote.”