Kentucky’s nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences have a chance to accept the restoration of their voting rights.
That’s nothing new — Gov. Andy Beshear signed the executive order in December. The order also applies to holding public office.
The revelation on Wednesday is the number of folks this affects. The initial estimate three months ago was that about 140,000 Kentuckians would no longer be disenfranchised. A new effort has helped raise that figure to 152,000.
It’s wonderful to witness a second chance for those who have paid for their mistakes — and it’s long overdue. The Commonwealth was one of two states that still applied lifetime voting bans for felons unless they individually applied for restoration from the governor.
Our voting rights are often taken for granted. Imagine losing them forever. Of course, if these Kentuckians hadn’t committed a felony, they wouldn’t have to worry about such a thing happening in the first place. But people do screw up — and, again, we must emphasize these are nonviolent felons who have done their time.
CivilRightsRestoration.ky.gov, which is part of an effort aimed at encouraging formerly disenfranchised voters to register for this year’s elections, offers an invitation to a “welcome back” party.
Many will qualify for automatic restoration. For those who don’t, they can submit an application on the aforementioned website.
While there are several felonies that prevent offenders from being eligible for restoration — treason, bribery in an election and human trafficking among them — there is now light at the end of the tunnel for so many who were previously going to be deprived of one of the most important rights one possesses.