Posted on February 23, 2023

Minnesota Senate Approves Restoring Voting Rights for Felons

Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, February 22, 2023

The Minnesota Senate moved Tuesday to restore voting rights to convicted felons as soon as they get out of prison instead of continuing to require them to complete their parole before they can cast a ballot.

The Senate approved the “Restore the Vote” bill less than a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the state’s current restrictions and left it up to the Legislature to change them. Democrats behind the measure say it will help reintegrate former inmates — who are disproportionately people of color — back into society.


The Senate approved the bill 35-30 Tuesday night and sent it to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz for his promised signature.

Supporters of the bill said it took on an even greater urgency after the Minnesota Supreme Court last week rejected a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had argued that the state’s restrictions were unconstitutional.

The high court’s ruling acknowledged that 1% of white people, 6% of Black people and 9% of Native American people in Minnesota could not vote in 2018 because they had been convicted of a felony but had not completed their parole. If the right to vote was restored upon release from incarceration, it said, those percentages would drop to 0.1%, 1.5% and 2%, respectively.

Twenty-one other states restore voting rights when people with felony convictions leave prison {snip}


Attempts by Republicans to weaken the bill failed, including one amendment to exclude people convicted of violent crimes and another that would have kept the requirement to complete parole in place at least for those convicted of child rape.