DES MOINES, Iowa — Despite their differences, Republicans and Democrats agree that the stakes are high in the upcoming election.
Joe Hogan served time as a felon and will be casting his ballot for the first time. He hopes others like him will, too. “This is the first year for people in Iowa to vote as felons. This is huge, and it is an election year. Everybody needs to get out. I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. We all need to find a middle ground. If you want to vote for one side or the other, it doesn’t matter, just get out and vote. Especially the felons, especially underserved communities.”
Hogan set up a voter registration drive Saturday at Universal Kutz on University Avenue in Des Moines to make sure others in the community have the opportunity to make their vote count. He says for decades felons had no voice in Iowa, but after Gov. Kim Reynolds’ executive order lifted that ban, many will cast a ballot for the first time.
Hogan is used to speaking up for the underserved and often overlooked. As a personal trainer, he helped create a nonprofit called Train to Inspire, which specializes in helping people with disabilities reach fitness goals. The registration drive in the Universal Kutz parking lot lasted until 3 p.m. and featured barbecue food and a fun zone for kids. Craig Hunt is the barbershop’s owner and loved the opportunity to collaborate for a positive cause.
“A lot of times we are having conversations with our clients and talking about making a difference and this is one of the things that we can do as a barbershop to make a difference. I think that’s a big deal. Let’s get people out to vote. Let’s get the first-time voters out, and let’s make a difference,” Hunt said.
The executive order applies to felons who have completed their sentence and not charged with felony murder. The Secretary of State’s Office unveiled a new website to help those Iowans register.