Ex-felons may have a tougher time voting in Iowa

Former inmates who served time behind bars may find it difficult to vote in the next election.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz would like Governor-elect Terry Branstad to void an order that automatically restores felons' voting rights after they've served their sentences.

That executive order was signed in 2005 by then Governor Tom Vilsack. Prior to 2005, inmates other than violent offenders had to petition Iowa's Governors to regain those rights.

Schultz and Branstad agree that inmates must complete all conditions of their sentences before seeking restoration.

But the American Civil Liberties Union disagrees. The ACLU wrote that "making the right to vote contingent on payment of court-imposed fees, fines and restitution is contrary to the fundamental principles of our democracy."

Wapello County Elections Deputy Danielle Welles agrees with the ACLU.

"When people get in trouble and they make mistakes, I think if they've served all their time and done everything that they were supposed to, I think that they should be able to get their voting rights back, if at all possible."

If you would like more information, you can call the Wapello Auditors Office at 641-683-0020.