Iowa panel backs bill for felons' voting rights

Felons discharged from criminal sentences would have their voting rights returned under a bill backed by a Senate panel.

In a 9-to-6 vote, Democrats on the State Government Committee endorsed the bill Wednesday to restore felons' voting rights. Republican members of the panel all voted no.

The bill would require that voting rights be restored to felons after they leave prison and complete the terms of their release. After his election, Gov. Terry Branstad took action that made Iowa among four states requiring felons to apply to the governor to have voting rights restored.

Republican Sen. Charles Schneider, of West Des Moines, opposed the bill, saying it would prematurely restore voting rights.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called Tuesday for Iowa and other states to ease rules restricting voting by felons.

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