July 1, 2016

The following statement can be attributed to Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa Legal Director, regarding this morning’s Iowa Supreme Court on Griffin, our ex-felon voting rights case:

“Today, justice was denied in a narrow 4-3 decision. But today’s decision serves as a call for movement by the people and our representatives for a long-overdue state constitutional amendment to right this profound wrong. Those of us who have a political voice must all act now on behalf of those whose voice has been silenced.

Thousands of Iowans, and disproportionately African-Americans, remain unable to vote or participate fully in their communities. And as the Court points out, Iowans who have felony convictions who have fully served their sentences are still subject “to flip-flopping executive orders depending on the political philosophy of the executive [governor] rather than on a more stable legal regime.”

This is no way run a democracy. Iowa remains of just one of three states that permanently banned all people with a felony conviction from voting. The state of affairs in Iowa goes against the trend of the nation. With this heartbreaking decision, Iowa remains one of just three states, along with Florida and Kentucky, that still impose permanent disenfranchisement.

But the ACLU of Iowa stands strong in fighting for the right of Iowans to exercise their right to vote. We will continue to fight for that right.

For Kelli personally, we will be working with her to go through the arduous process of applying to the governor’s office for a restoration of her voting rights. We’ll also continue to help educate Iowans on the complex patchwork of voting laws left by a series of executive orders. And we call on the Governor to put automatic restoration for those who have served their time in place once more.

We remind those who have had their right to vote restored by executive order that they still have it. Today’s decision did not take away your right to vote. Exercise it!

And, most ambitiously, we’ll start work starting today on a constitutional amendment so that finally, the thousands of Iowans who have completed their sentences can once again be full members of society and exercise their right to vote. We join with our fellow Iowans in calling for change.”

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