National LWV Convention Adopts Resolution to Abolish Electoral College

August 6, 2018

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Cindy Heine, Publicity Co-Chair
502-875-6481
kentuckylwv@gmail.com

League of Women Voters of Kentucky Returns from National Convention;
Convention Resolutions Include Abolishing the Electoral College

LANG HOUSE, LOUISVILLE, KY: The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) conducted its 53rd National Convention on June 28 – July 1 in Chicago, IL. The event kicked off a two-year celebration of the coming 100th anniversary in 2020 of women gaining suffrage and the establishment of the League of Women Voters. More than 1,000 League leaders from 49 states and the District of Columbia attended leadership workshops and heard from guest speakers about League priorities. The League of Women Voters of Kentucky was represented by Wanda Lynch, State President, and Glistine Jones from Hopkinsville, and Mary Jo Rodgers, State Director from Louisville. Joan Lindop, State Director, and Becki Harmon from the Louisville League also attended.

Over the four-day Convention, delegates voted on the national organization’s priorities and resolutions. There were several discussions about the Electoral College system of electing the U.S. President and Vice President. The Convention overwhelming passed a resolution reaffirming the League’s long-held position that the Electoral College should be abolished in favor of a popular vote system.

“There are many reasons why now is the time to eliminate the Electoral College system,” said Wanda Lynch, President of the LWV of Kentucky. “The Electoral College discourages people from voting because they feel their votes do not count, and it magnifies the divisiveness in our country by emphasizing a false blue state/red state divide.” No delegates spoke in opposition to the resolution.
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Support Efforts to Restore Ex-Felon Voting Rights

February 22, 2017

One of every 11 Kentucky citizens of voting age, or 312,000 people, cannot vote according to Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, an updated 2017 report of the Kentucky League of Women Voters.  In Kentucky, persons convicted of felony offenses permanently lose their right to vote.  Because of this restriction, 26 percent of African Americans of voting age are disenfranchised, meaning one in every four members of the African American community are excluded when it comes to electing their representatives at the local, state and federal levels.

Since publication of the League’s 2006 report which showed disenfranchisement of 186,000 persons, another 126,000 citizens, an increase of 68 percent, have lost their voting rights.

Kentucky is one of only four states that ban former felons from voting, ranking third in the rate of disenfranchisement overall and first in disenfranchisement of African Americans.  Many states allow persons to vote once their sentences have been served and some never take away voting rights, allowing prisoners to vote.

In Kentucky, former felons may appeal to the governor to have voting rights restored, but the number of persons regaining that right is left to the discretion of the governor and has varied widely.

In 2016, the legislature enacted House Bill 40, expanding the opportunity for former felons to seek expungement of their felony convictions, which would also restore their right to vote.  The application requires a five-year waiting period and a $500 fee.  In the first six months after HB 40 became law, fewer than 400 applicant requests for expungement were granted, representing a fraction of the 312,000 citizens who have lost their right to vote.  Many of these persons made a mistake as a young person. They are now working, paying taxes and participating as citizens in everything but the most important aspect of being a U.S. citizen – voting.  The League reports that the restoration of voting rights promotes rehabilitation and reintegration into the community and cites public opinion surveys showing eight in ten U.S. residents support voting rights for citizens who have completed their sentence.

We applaud Governor Matt Bevin, Justice Cabinet Secretary John Tilley and Senator Whitney Westerfield, who are promoting Senate Bill 120 to provide supports for former felons to make a smooth and successful transition from prison to their communities and employment.  We would suggest, however, that restoring the right to vote should be included in the many ways SB 120 helps felons re-enter society.  Restoration of voting rights is another way to help these citizens become contributing members of their communities and to reduce recidivism, thus saving the state the high cost of additional convictions and incarceration.

We support Senate Bill 120.  We also support legislation that would expand the opportunity for expungement of felonies and reduce application fees.  We ask the governor to expeditiously restore felons’ right to vote by issuing executive pardons to those who have applied.  In addition, we ask legislators to support Senate Bill 69 or House Bill 170 which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot allowing citizens to decide whether to automatically restore voting rights to those who have made mistakes but paid their debt to society.

Terry Naydan and Nita Smith, Co-Presidents

League of Women Voters of Kentucky

The League’s report, Felon Disenfranchisement in Kentucky, can be found at https://lwvky.org/about/publications/

Published by the Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/21/17; The Courier-Journal, 2/22/17

 


League’s Updated Felony Disenfranchisement Report Released; Law bars 312,000 from Polls

February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Terry Naydan or Nita Smith, Co-Presidents                                                  

  502-875-6481 or kentuckylwv@gmail.com 

2017 REPORT: KENTUCKY FELONY VOTING LAW BARS OVER 312,000 FROM POLLS;

126,000 MORE BANNED SINCE 2006 REPORT

  • Kentucky one of four states to ban former felons from voting
  • Kentucky #3 in rate of disenfranchisement
  • Kentucky #1 in disenfranchisement of African Americans
  • 312,000 currently disenfranchised, 126,000 more than reported in 2006 study

Frankfort, KY – The League of Women Voters of Kentucky released a state report today, Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky showing Kentucky has the third highest rate of citizens and the highest rate of African Americans who have lost their right to vote despite completing their full felony sentence. This report is an updated version of similar studies conducted in 2006 and 2013.

According to the report, Kentucky is one of only four states to enforce lifetime voting bans on all persons with felony convictions resulting in the disenfranchisement of over 312,000 residents. This is an increase of more than 68,000 since the figures reported by the League in 2013 and 126,000 since the 2006 report.

One of every 11 adults in Kentucky is ineligible to vote due to a previous felony conviction, a rate of 9.1 percent, nearly three times the national average of 2.47 percent or one in 40. Among African Americans, almost one in four is disenfranchised, a rate of 26.2 percent, more than triple the national rate of 9.1 percent.  The report also finds that 92 percent of those disenfranchised live in the community and 78 percent have completed their full sentence.

In 2001, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation to simplify voter restoration for people with previous convictions resulting in an increase in restoration of voting rights, from 831 in 2000 to 1,231 in 2003.  After a 2004 change in gubernatorial policy requiring an essay and three character references, there was a dramatic decline in applications and approvals to 164 in 2006.  Changes in 2008 with a new governor, resulted in an improvement in the numbers, 10,479 between 2008 and 2015.

In 2015, then-Gov. Steve Beshear issued an order that restored voting rights to individuals with non-violent felony convictions who had completed their sentences and met other criteria. That order also established a process by which qualifying citizens’ voting rights would be restored as they completed their sentences. In late 2015 Gov. Matt Bevin rescinded that order and replaced it with Kentucky’s prior procedure. That procedure requires individuals who have completed their full sentence to submit an application detailing their convictions and sentences served. As of October 2016, no restoration orders had been issued.

Enactment of House Bill 40 in 2016 allowed persons with certain Class D felony convictions to have those convictions vacated and expunged. Since the law took effect in July, fewer than 389 persons have had their voting rights restored.

The League has a longstanding belief that “voting is a fundamental expression of citizenship and every citizen of our Commonwealth should be protected in the right to vote,” according to the new report.   Kentucky League co-president, Dr. Terry Naydan said, “When we show felons who have paid their debt to society that they are allowed to vote, we are saying that they are citizens again. Studies show that the rate of recidivism goes down when a felon feels he/she can fully participate in our democracy.”

League recommendations include providing:

  • A ballot measure to allow Kentucky voters to decide whether people living in the community and who have completed their full sentence have their voting rights restored automatically
  • Increased assistance to eligible persons with the restoration of voting rights application process
  • Increasing public education about the process of restoring voting rights and available resources to help those wishing to vote
  • Annual release of data on the number of people applying for restoration of voting rights and expungement of felony records and the number approved and denied
  • Reduction and/or waiver of the $500 application fee for expungement of felony records.

“The League was created by women who struggled many years seeking the right to vote,” said Nita Smith, co-president of the state League. “We believe citizens who have made a mistake should have that right reinstated once they have completed their full sentence and/or parole. The League of Women Voters believes that our society is stronger when all of our citizens vote.”

The state League of Women Voters takes positions only after deliberation and consensus from local Leagues across the state.

The report, Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky: A Report of the League of Women Voters of Kentucky, February 2017 along with the 2006  and 2013 reports are available at lwvky.org/about/publications/.

The League of Women Voters of Kentucky, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  Members include both women and men.

2017 Report

2017 Report Summary 

February 2017 Press Release

2013 Felony Disenfranchisement Report

2013 Felony Disenfranchisement Summary

2006 Felony Disenfranchisement Report

2017_Expungement Report – Kentucky 

Resources on the Expungement Process

Expungement Guidebook, Clean Slate Kentucky

Lawyers Guide to Expungement in Kentucky, Clean Slate Kentucky

 


USE YOUR VOICE Campaign

February 3, 2016

The Hopkinsville/Christian County and Lexington Leagues are partnering with Patty Griffin in the USE YOUR VOICE campaign, an effort to bring attention to the importance of voting. Hopkinsville members will be at the Feb. 19 concert in Paducah to offer voter registration to concert goers and provide information about voting. Lexington members will participate in the Feb. 20 concert in Lexington. This is another good way to promote the important work of the League of Women Voters. Contact Bonnie Lynch (Hopkinsville 270-881-2574) or Tammy Fagley (Lexington – Tammy.Fagley@gmail.com) for more details about the events in your area.


2014 Analysis of HB 70 as amended affects voting rights of over 100,000

February 25, 2014
  • Kentucky one of four most restrictive states banning former felons from voting
  • Original provisions of HB 70 automatically restore rights to about 180,000 individuals if Constitutional amendment approved
  • HB 70 as amended requires 5-year waiting period and imposes other restrictions denying or delaying restoration of voting rights for 100,000 individuals                              
  • Amendments put undo burden on election officials

Frankfort, KY – The League of Women Voters of Kentucky released “An Analysis of the Impact of HB 70 and Proposed Amendments Regarding Voting Rights for Persons with Felony Convictions” today. Under House Bill 70 as originally proposed, permanent disenfranchisement would be eliminated for all but a handful of offenses and all rights would be restored at completion of sentence. Amendments introduced in the Senate last week, would substantially limit the number of individuals who would benefit from the policy change, as well as create greater administrative burdens for election officials. It is estimated that as many as 55% of the ex-felon population currently disenfranchised in Kentucky would continue to be excluded from the automatic rights restoration process if these amendments were enacted and the proposed Constitutional amendment are approved by voters. Read the rest of this entry »


2013 Report: Kentucky Felony Voting Law Bars Over 243,000 From Polls

February 11, 2013

• Kentucky one of four states to ban former felons from voting
• Kentucky #3 in rate of disenfranchisement
• Kentucky #2 in disenfranchisement of African Americans
• 243,000 currently disenfranchised, 57,000 more than reported in 2006 study

Frankfort, KY – The League of Women Voters of Kentucky released a state report today, Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, showing Kentucky has the third highest rate of citizens and the second highest rate of African Americans who have lost their right to vote despite completing their full felony sentence. This report is an updated version of a similar 2006 study.

According to the report, Kentucky is one of only four states to enforce lifetime voting bans on all persons with felony convictions resulting in the disenfranchisement of over 243,000 residents. This is an increase of more than 57,000 since the figures reported by the League in 2006.

One of every 14 adults in Kentucky is ineligible to vote due to a previous felony conviction, a rate of 7.35 percent, nearly three times the national rate of 2.5 percent. Among African Americans, almost one in five is disenfranchised, a rate of 22.3 percent, nearly triple the national rate of 7.66 percent. The report also finds that 90 percent of those disenfranchised live in the community, and 74 percent have completed their full sentence.

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Update on HB 70 – The Former Felons Voting Rights Bill

February 1, 2012

The League of Women Voters of Kentucky is again supporting Representative Crenshaw’s bill, HB 70, which would allow the voters of Kentucky to decide if former felons, who have paid their debt to society, should automatically have their voting rights restored. On January 24, TeenaHalbig, a former president of the League, testified in support of the bill. She suggested that one of the ways we reintegrate former felons into the community, is to allow them the most basic right of citizenship, that of the right to vote.
To enhance voting, the League makes these recommendations
• A ballot measure to consider amending the KY Constitution so that people living in the community and who have completed their sentence have their voting rights restored automatically. Allow the public vote on this issue.
• Inform prisoners about the process to apply and offer technical help with accessing records.
• Three months prior to completion of sentence, provide assistance (by volunteers from organizations or by current employees)
• Provide public education from by the Secretary of State’s office, the Department of Corrections, or Office of the Courts about registering to vote after rights are restored.
On January 24 the bill was voted favorably out of Committee with bipartisan support. The bill is expected to come up for a full vote of the House very soon.
Take Action!
Call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) as soon as possible and leave a message for your legislator. The line is open from 7 am to 11 pm on weekdays and until 6 pm on Fridays. The operator will ask for your name and address.

Message: “Please vote yes on House Bill 70.”
Thank you for supporting this bill.