Politics

The Kentucky state House on Thursday voted to restore voting rights for non-violent felons after they’ve served their time.

The bill, which has passed the House every year since 2007, would give an estimated 186,000 Kentuckians the right to vote, according to the activist group Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.

Rep. George Brown, Jr., a Democrat from Lexington who co-sponsored the bill, said Kentucky has been in the dark ages when it comes to granting voting rights for felons.

“Kentucky is a place that has long drug its feet in terms of the citizens that have paid their debt to society,” Brown said. “The question bears reason to ask is: How long does a youthful indiscretion equate to a lifetime sentence for the citizens of our state?”

Presently felons have to appeal to the governor to regain the right to vote.

Last year the Senate passed a more restrictive version of the bill that would have imposed a five-year waiting period and any repeat offenders would be banned from voting forever. The House did not take up the bill.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, re-introduced a piece of legislation that would restore voting rights for non-violent felons. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.

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