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Felons argue for voting rights at Sixth Circuit

A group of convicts say Kentucky’s governor cannot be vested with the sole power to decide whether to reinstate the voting rights of violent felons.

CINCINNATI (CN) — Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear restored voting rights to nonviolent felons in 2019, but a group of convicted criminals argued Thursday that relief does not prevent a First Amendment challenge to the commonwealth's re-enfranchisement procedure.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2018 against then-Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, and claimed Kentucky's re-enfranchisement protocol for felons – involving a decision by the governor alone – violated the First Amendment because it gave the governor "unfettered discretion" over a criminal's voting rights.

Beshear, a Democrat, took office shortly thereafter and signed an executive order to restore voting rights to all in-state, nonviolent felons who completed their sentences and paid off any fines.


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