Kentucky Politics

Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration has launched a website where Kentuckians with felony records can determine if they have had their voting rights restored.

The effort comes after Beshear, a Democrat, issued an executive order restoring voting rights to people who have finished their sentences for non-violent felony convictions.

On Wednesday, Beshear said that 152,000 people would be eligible to have their voting rights restored.

Beshear said his administration worked quickly to get the website up in time for Kentucky’s May 19th primary elections.

“Once you sign that executive order, people ought to be able to vote in that next election,” Beshear said.

Currently, anyone convicted of a Class D felony or higher in Kentucky is permanently banned from voting.

Those looking to see if they qualified to have their voting rights restored can go to CivilRightsRestoration.ky.gov. The site includes a searchable database and links to register on the secretary of state’s website.

“The process is simple: all you have to do is enter a first and last name and a date of birth. You then verify the county of conviction or supervision and a result is displayed,” Beshear said.

Beshear issued the voting rights executive order on his third day in office, reviving an issue that had arisen in the two previous administrations.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, the current governor’s father, issued a similar executive order as one of his final moves in office. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin rescinded that order as one of his first actions, saying this issue should be handled by the legislature.

Raoul Cunningham, president of the Kentucky NAACP, said that advocates are now trying to help newly eligible voters get registered.

“We cannot sit back and just be thankful that this day has come. Because the work has just begun,” Cunningham said.

Beshear’s announcement comes a day after the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would create new voter ID restrictions, inching the measure closer to Beshear’s desk.

On Wednesday, Beshear cast doubts that he would sign the bill.

“I want to wait to see what the final bill will be,” Beshear said. “I am not for any bill that makes it harder for people to vote. We have zero cases of people pretending to be other people to vote.”

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.