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Iowa felons need to apply to have voting rights reinstated

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2015 | Felonies

A felony conviction in Iowa is never welcome. Any type of conviction can lead to numerous problems with other aspects of your life, from finding housing to keeping a job, but with a felony conviction, the problems become greater and the solutions more difficult.

Throughout the nation, many states have used the termination of your right to vote as one of the sanctions a convicted felon. This sanction may be temporary, a former offender may need to apply to have their rights restored or the revocation may be permanent, depending on the offense.

In Iowa, the situation for those who forfeited their voting rights has varied during the last decade. Prior to 2005, felons had to petition to have their voting rights restored. Then the governor signed an executive order that changed that, and instituted an automatic restoration of those rights.

It changed again in 2011, when Governor Branstad rescinded the previous executive order, ending the automatic restoration of voting rights and requiring the payment of all court costs, fees and restitution by felons before they could regain their right to vote.

This back-and-fourth caused a significant problem for one Iowa woman, who voted in 2012, believing her right to vote had been automatically restored. Instead, she was prosecuted for the crime of illegally voting. This offense is itself a felony, and she could have received five years in prison had she been convicted.

After more than two years, the county attorney finally dropped the prosecution. He claimed it no longer “needed to be pursued.” A similar prosecution that resulted in a not guilty verdict, may have help him make that determination.

Loss of voting rights and prohibitions on firearm possession and ownership are among the most notable privileges affected by the felony conviction and extreme care should be taken by anyone with such convictions. Firearms violations may result in a second felony prosecution., “2½ years later, Iowa prosecutor drops election fraud case against ex-felon who voted in 2012,” August 5, 2015