Kentucky Felon Voting Rights Bill’s Hopes Rest on Rand Paul’s Support

A bill to restore voting rights for non-violent felons has passed a Kentucky House committee.

The measure is Rep. Jesse Crenshaw’s latest attempt to put about 130,000 felons back on the voting rolls.

Similar efforts have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. But Crenshaw says he hopes that his bill will fare better this year because of support from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

“I hope that he would, in fact, speak with those in the Senate and urge them to call it for a vote, in committee and on the floor,” says Crenshaw, a Lexington Democrat. “I hope that he would do that.”

A spokesman for Sen. Paul says he plans to urge Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass the legislation, and will testify before an upcoming Senate committee on the issue.

Currently, felons must seek a restoration of civil rights from the governor to regain the right to vote. Beshear has granted nearly 8,000 restorations since taking office.

If passed, Crenshaw’s legislation would put the issue to voters on the November ballot.

When asked if a Senate Republican plan to trade support for his bill by amending it to include photo voter ID laws, Crenshaw declined to comment.

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