Voting Rights News | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Voting Rights News

Lexington-Fayette urban county government comes out in support of restoring voting rights for former felons

March 3, 2013 at 08:55pm

As folks already know, HB 70, Representative Jesse Crenshaw's bill that would restore voting rights to most former felons who've served their time, has passed the Kentucky House seven years in a row, each year with broad bipartisan support. Most recently the vote was 75 to 25. Unfortunately when it's arrived in the Senate it hasn't received a hearing or vote. KFTC members and allies are working diligently to educate the Kentucky Senate about HB 70 and the positive effect it would have on communities across the commonwealth. And chapters have begun to develop strategies for involving their local governments.

Starting approximately a year ago, the central Kentucky chapter began lobbying their city council to pass a resolution in support of voting rights for former felons. 

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is made up of 12 members who represent city districts, including three at-large council members of which one is the vice mayor. One of the chapter's first meetings was with Vice Mayor Linda Gorton who said that if KFTC members were serious about passing a resolution through the council then they should make a good faith effory to meet with every council member (and the mayor) to educate them about the issue.

So that's what chapter members did, and over the last year they met with nearly every member of the council, including Mayor Jim Gray and his aides to explain how the LFUCG could help towards building a more vibrant and healthy democracy. The lobby meetings were a great experience for chapter members because not only did it give them practice talking about the campaign but it helped them get to know how their city government worked and who the council members were. Their meeting with council member Ford went incredibly well, he was very supportive, so they asked him immediately if he'd sponsor the resolution, to which he agreed.

Their lobbying efforts paid off when last Thursday the city council voted unanimously to pass a resolution stating that not only do they believe that people who’ve served their time deserve the right to vote again, but also that the General Assembly should give the citizens of the commonwealth the chance to vote on the issue.

KFTC members and allies packed the council chambers and folks gave over an hour of testimony in support of the resolution.

KFTC member and former felon Tayna Fogle talked about her past as both a UK basketbal player and a person who fell into drugs. "I served a ten year prison sentence, I did my time. I made a mistake but I am not a mistake."

KFTC member Tedi Smith-Robillard, who received a pardon from the governor, shared with the council her commitment to justice. “I am 73 years old and until the day I die I will work for justice and for people to have the right to vote."

The resolution while symbolic (the city Lexington city council can’t change Kentucky’s constitution or give people their voting rights back), does send a powerful message to the General Assembly.

"We are counting on you to do the right thing. - Rev. Joseph Owens at the Lexington city council meeting.

Click here for a copy of the council meeting docket which contains the language of the resolution (number 41)

Our Voting Rights bill is moving! Call in today and join us next week!

February 27, 2013 at 01:55pm

gIMG_3798Yesterday, HB 70, our bill to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society, was assigned to the Senate State and Local Government committee. The chair of this committee in previous years has prevented the bill from being heard, but the new chair, Senator Bowen, is tentatively supportive of this legislation. And he is much more likely to hold a hearing on the bill if he hears from you.

CKY members discuss the impacts of budget cuts on kids, and learn how to negotiate with people in power

February 25, 2013 at 07:30pm
Central Kentucky

DSCN0232Central Kentucky chapter members had a packed agenda for their February monthly meeting. Before the official meeting started, community member Will Bunge led a discussion about the ways that budget cuts were affecting Kentucky's kids, especially kids in foster care. As a former foster child himself, Will talked about the importance of supporting efforts that would make the foster care system more just, that supported folks receiving kinship care and about the possibility of alternative foster communities. He and his partner Susan are interested in starting a not-for profit alternative foster care community in Frankfort. If you're interested in learning more about their project, you can get in touch with them at (502) 523-1674 or [email protected]

During the chapter meeting, CKY Organizer Beth Howard led a great training on how to negotiate with "power people." She explained the different ways that people in authority might try to get out of making commitments in meetings or change the topic of conversation. She taught chapter members valuable skills on how to recognize these tactics.

Poll: Kentuckians support restoring felon voting rights

February 25, 2013 at 06:12pm

Bluegrass Poll | Kentucky supports restoring felon voting rights

From The Courier Journal

A majority of Kentucky voters say they favor amending the state constitution to allow convicted felons to regain their right to vote once they serve their full sentences.

A poll of 616 registered voters taken Feb. 19-21 by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal found that 51 percent favored such an amendment, while 38 percent opposed it. The poll question had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Many Kentuckians appear to share the view of Thomas Vance, 62, a disabled retired Air Force master sergeant who lives in Alexandria. In a follow-up interview, Vance said denying felons the vote after they serve their sentence is “piling on.”

“It is just not fair,” he said. “If I did my time, that should be the end of it.”

Bluegrass Poll | Kentucky supports restoring felon voting rights

February 25, 2013
Louisville Courier Journal

A majority of Kentucky voters say they favor amending the state constitution to allow convicted felons to regain their right to vote once they serve their full sentences.

Charging ahead on Voting Rights in the Senate

February 21, 2013 at 06:46pm

gIMG_0376Yesterday, our Voting Rights bill (HB 70) made it through the House to the Senate. 

Today, twenty KFTC members and allies were there in Frankfort to talk lobby senators, thank represenatives, and make our voices heard. 

It was a productive lobby day in which we met with 22 legislators, left personal notes and information for many dozens more, scheduled meetings with 13 more for days to come, and were generally a visible prescence in Frankfort. 

Voting Rights passes House, 75 -25. On to the Senate!

February 20, 2013 at 06:19pm

House Bill 70, our bill to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society, has just passed a vote on the House floor 75 to 25.

Please thank your representative if they voted yes (see how they voted). 

That's an overwhelming majority, but some of the new legislators just elected last year tended to vote no, perhaps proving that this is an educational issue and it takes a while to get through to people about it. 

Representative David Floyd (R) spoke on the House floor in favor of voting rights, asking "Are felons forever comdemned or can they be restored? ... I think if you've served your debt to society, you've served your debt to society. I want the people of Kentucky to vote on this and that's what HB 70 does."

Merlene Davis: Advocates for felons' voting rights hope …

February 18, 2013
Lexington Herald-Leader

Changes in the Kentucky Senate offer hope that House Bill 70 might get fair consideration this year.

Voting Rights Floor Vote Soon. Call in!

February 19, 2013 at 06:00pm

gIMG_0551Last week, HB 70, our bill to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society, passed a vote in House Committee 6 to 1

Now it will come up for a vote on the House Floor any day now and we want to express our support of the bill to legislators loud and clear.

Please take two minutes and call the legislative message line, 1-800-372-7181, leaving a message for your own representative plus "House Leadership."
A good, simple message is "please support HB 70."

The message line is open until 11pm, so please call as soon as you can.

Also, please plan on joining us on March 6th for our big Voting Rights Lobby Day and Rally.

HB 70 Passes Committee!

February 12, 2013 at 04:06pm

gIMG_0146This morning, House Bill 70, our bill to restore voting rights to former felons  who have served their debt to society, passed out of the House Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee with 6 yes votes, 1 no and 2 abstentions.

Rep Jesse Crenshaw, Terry Nayden (LWV), Raoul Cunninham (NAACP), and Fr. Pat Delahanty (Catholic Conference) gave testimony in support of the bill.

The League of Women Voters released a revision of their study of felony disenfranchisement in Kentucky today and presented it to the committee.