Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights To Nonviolent Former Felons

The state is one of a handful that was not already doing this.

WASHINGTON -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed an executive order on Tuesday that would automatically restore voting rights to a large number of former felons who have served their sentences. The executive order would not apply to individuals who were convicted of violent crimes, sex crimes, bribery or treason.

Beshear, who has served as governor for eight years, said at a press conference that more than 100,000 people would be affected. The Brennan Center for Justice says about 140,000 individuals are immediately eligible, and another 30,000 will be eligible over time.

Kentucky has been one of a few states where individuals who have served their time had to individually apply to the governor to have their voting rights restored rather than having them restored automatically.

Beshear said he hopes the legislature will put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to permanently automatically restore voting rights to individuals who have served their sentences. 

Matt Bevin, the Republican who beat out Democrat Attorney General Jack Conway to succeed Beshear as governor, has said in the past that he supports automatic restoration of voting rights.

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