Iowa felons could regain voting rights

Former offenders say they want a say in their leadership

By Krista Burris | kburris@whbf.com

Published 02/10 2016 06:19PM

Updated 02/10 2016 06:19PM

Thousands of felons in Iowa not allowed to vote might have that right restored.
 
The state's supreme court will hear a case that could change the rules.
 
The men say it would be a welcomed change.
 
Right now, Iowa is one of three states with lifetime voting bans for felons that can only be restored by the Governor. 
 
With the presidential election around the corner some former offenders are hoping the court's decision will allow them to take part.
 
"It makes you feel like that you have to accept what everybody else thinks instead of what you think on how the country's ran," said LeGrand Logsdon. 
 
Logsdon is in a transitional program in Davenport after serving time in prison. 
 
He would like to be able to vote again.
 
"We committed a crime yes, but we paid for our crime, and now that they've let us free we're ready for society again," said Logsdon. 
 
De Witt Wells is also in the reentry program, and he feels the same way. 
 
"I did my time. I made my mistake. I paid the consequences and did everything like I'm supposed to. I should be able to have my rights back," said Wells. 
 
The Iowa Supreme Court will decide, which of the thousands of former offenders are eligible to vote.
 
State's constitution says anyone who commits and "infamous crime" loses their voting rights,
 
Right now, that means people convicted of felonies. 
 
Seventh judicial district director Waylan McCulloh says felons will still face obstacles voting. 
 
"Part of the restoration process is that the offender make certain that he has satisfied all of his financial obligations to the court and for some offenders, that's exceedingly difficult," said McCulloh. 
 
Mccoulloh says if the ban is lifted it could impact elections results.
 
Logsdon and wells say regaining the right to vote would give former offenders another reason to stay out of trouble. 
 
"If you didn't have these opportunities, it'd probably lead you right back to the life of crime again, and the next thing you know, you're in jail again and then back in prison," said Logsdon. 
 
"I'll feel like I'm a part of something, and that I'm doing something," said Wells. 
 
Groups have been urging the Iowa Supreme Court to change the rules.
 
The NAACP says the voting ban disproportionately affects blacks.

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