Voting Rights News | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Voting Rights News

First day back lobbying in Frankfort was a big hit

February 8, 2013 at 02:42pm

gIMG_0114On Wednesday, KFTC members gathered in Frankfort for our first regular lobby day of the General Assembly, kickstarting our 2013 grassroots lobbying for legislation to restore voting rights toformer felons who have served their debt to society. 

This was the first time lobbying for several of us, and a key space to learn how.

In all, we talked to 19 legislators, several of which were new themselves, having just been elected the previous November. 

Two of our citizen lobbyists were former felons themselves, Mark Romines of Louisville and Teddi Smith Robillard of Lexington.  Telling their stories to legislators face-to-face and connecting with them was a really key part of the day.

Hazard meeting with State Senator Brandon Smith

February 4, 2013 at 11:20pm

January 2013 meeting with Sen. Brandon SmithJust days before traveling back to Frankfort for the two upcoming months of General Assembly, new Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith met up with KFTC members at the Perry County Library.   This was one of several at-home meetings KFTC members organized this past week to open up communication during this General Assembly as well as to build support for the Clean Energy Opportunity Act.  Members from Perry County, Harlan County, and Letcher County met with Sen. Smith about this legislative priority as well as the Kentucky Voting Rights Amendment (HB 70) and other local issues. 

Voting Rights Meeting and Action!

February 4, 2013 at 06:03pm


 This weekend, we had a powerful statewide meeting in Louisville with allies to plan our campaign to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society.

We had forty participants from a wide range of groups including Jobs with Justice, NAACP, the Kentucky Council of Churches, Stepping to a New Beat, and the UAW along with a lot of KFTCmembers.  Many of the participants were former felons themselves. 

We used a lot of the time to let people in the room have a chance to connect, root themselves in why they think restoring voting rights is important, and review the history of ourcampaign and the current landscape. 

But after that, we focused a lot on actions to restore voting rights to former felons and we're sharing those out to the broader public here:

CKY members meet with the new city council members about voting rights

January 30, 2013 at 03:17pm

This January the Lexington city council welcomed four new members; Shevawn Akers (district 2), Jennifer Scutchfield (district 7), Jennifer Mossotti (district 9) and Harry Clarke (district 10). Central Kentucky KFTC members have been very busy over the last couple of weeks meeting with the new city council members about voting rights.

MLK Events in Lexington and Georgetown

January 22, 2013 at 12:45pm

gDSC_0772This weekend, KFTC members took part in powerful Martin Luther King Jr. marches and programs in Lexington and Georgetown, respectively.

We marched with allies, talked to elected officials, and publicized upcoming events, but mostly used the space to reflect on and celebrate King's legacy and the legacy of the Civil Rights movement. 

Voting Rights Update and a Shifting Senate

January 15, 2013 at 02:54pm

Voting Rights RallyHouse Bill 70, KFTC’s proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to most former felons who have served their debt to society, has typically passed the state House overwhelmingly – with as many as 84 and as few as 70 of the hundred representatives voting yes and broad bipartisan support. 

Where we’ve consistently hit a snag is in the Senate – where Senate President David Williams, State and Local Government Committee Chairman Damon Thayer, and a few other leaders, have prevented HB 70 from coming to a vote. 

But this year, a lot has shifted in the Senate.

Remembering James Snyder

January 15, 2013 at 02:20pm
Rolling Bluegrass

Scott County KFTC member, former felon spokesperson, and KFTC voter empowerment strategy team member James Snyder passed away in his sleep suddenly earlier this month.

We interviewed James in balancing the scales and on this blog last year as part of a series of interviews with former felons struggling to get their right to vote back. 

He served in the army for 9 years, was politically active all of his life, but amongst other things, James had a felony in his distant past.  That didn’t keep him from voting where he lived in Illinois, but he returned to Kentucky to take care of his parents and so he wasn’t allowed to vote.

Jason Smith – Turned away at the polls, but determined enough to make sure his voice counted

November 19, 2012 at 05:59pm

We heard a few stories throughout Election Day of former felons who had gone through the process to have their vote restored by gubernatorial pardon – and received it – but were still illegally tuned away at the polls.  This is one story from former felon Jason Smith (who we interviewed last year) who encountered a lot of difficulty in casting his first vote in a presidential election earlier this month.  

"I was excited. I got my right to vote back after working hard to get it back in 2011 and voted for the first time in the General Election last year.

"This was my first presidential election, though, and I was taking it really seriously – learning about all of the issues and candidates and really doing the research to cast a well-informed vote.

"And the line was so much longer than I thought it would be. I waited for almost an hour to vote, but it didn’t matter. It was worth it.

"When I got up to the front, there was a sweet older lady who asked for my name and flipped through the booklet, but just couldn’t find me anywhere. She called the Hardin County Clerk’s office and handed me the phone.

"I couldn’t believe what the person on the other end of the phone was telling me.

Voting Rights in the News

November 9, 2012 at 12:51pm

This segment aired on News Channel 12 in Bowling Green this week. 

Perry County Chapter hosts 'Singing for Democracy'

November 5, 2012 at 07:41pm

KFTC members, advocates for democracy and church members came together on Sunday, November 4th for the first Singing for Democracy in eastern Kentucky. 65 people came to the Consolidated Baptist Church in Hazard to hear singing, testimony and share fellowship over a chili supper cooked by church members and Perry County chapter member Jenny Williams.

gDSC_0543Consolidated Baptist Church pastor Rev. Lowell Parker of Wheelwright, Floyd County, served as emcee for the night, introducing the speakers, distinguished guests and even singing with the church choir. The program started with a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Lexington singer Special K. The Consolidated Baptist Choir and visiting Rev. Jake Ravizee fueled the event with songs of praise and worship.  Evangelist Jake Ravizee has been an Ordained Minister-Evangelist and Vocalist for over 35 years. He lives in Lynch, Kentucky with his wife and three children. His years of service through prison ministries made him especially excited to be a part of this important event.

There was an impressive turnout both from local community members and from local elected officials. State Senator Brandon Smith, Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo and Commonwealth Attorney Teresa  Reed all attended the event. Judge Stumbo, who is seeking election to the state Supreme Court, spoke briefly about the meaning of democracy after Rev. Parker invited her up to the podium. Her vision of democracy included memories she had of being a child in Floyd County, watching her father tally votes off the radio during election nights, and watching the impressive campaign led by KFTC in the 1980s to stop the broad form deed.