The ACLU of Iowa issued the following statement after the Iowa Legislature adjourned and failed to pass HJR 14, a proposed constitutional amendment to restore voting eligibility to Iowans with a felony conviction in their background.
"Today's turn of events allows Iowa's worst-in-the-nation felony disenfranchisement system to stand—for now. Iowa's disenfranchisement law has been especially devastating to Black communities across Iowa, where one in 10 Black adults cannot vote because of a felony conviction. This means entire communities have a reduced voice in our government and it perpetuates the problems of a deeply flawed criminal justice system. The ACLU of Iowa is committed to ending felony disenfranchisement in our state, and has been working in coalition with our allies toward this day for over a decade. We're not about to give up now.
"We know that the public is with us, and that this is a nonpartisan issue of fundamental fairness. We also know that allowing people to vote—for their children's school board members, for their state and federal representatives, and for president—leads to greater investment in our communities, and reduces recidivism. Restoring the vote is about giving people a fair chance and setting them up for success in their lives after they complete their sentence.
"We are deeply grateful to the leadership of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and many members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle in supporting this amendment. We will continue to support their efforts to right this wrong for good.
"Next steps are for the 89th Iowa General Assembly (2021 and 2022 sessions) to pass this amendment by the end of the 2022 session. It will then need to go before the subsequent General Assembly (2023 and 2024 sessions) for second passage by the end of the 2024 session before it can go on the ballot for a vote by the people in the 2024 General Election.
"In the meantime, the Governor can restore the eligibility to vote to thousands of Iowans today, and moving forward, with an executive order."