Second Chance Coalition rallies for voting rights restoration

More than 60 organizations came together on March 7 to promote one common theme – people deserve a meaningful second chance if they make a mistake in our criminal justice system.

The state Capitol rotunda rally drew hundreds of people from all walks of life including churches, businesses, politicians, and private citizens. One of the issues they are fighting for is to change Minnesota law to allow people to vote after being released from prison. Minnesotans who have a felony conviction currently lose the right to vote until they have been released from supervision, including while on probation living in the community, even if they never spent any time in prison. Restoring the right to vote for those living in our communities will positively engage more people in the democratic process, save resources, and ultimately make all Minnesota communities safer and more just.

More than 65 million Americans, or one in four adults, have criminal records that limit their access to education, jobs, and housing, and prevents them from voting in Minnesota. Our history is marked by successful struggles to expand voting rights, to include those previously barred from the electorate because of race, class, or gender. The legislation to restore voting rights will build a stronger democracy, advances civil rights, ends second-class citizenship, aids law enforcement, empowers family and communities, and assures fair and accurate voter rolls.