Door slightly ajar for felon voting rights

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If you commit a felony in the state of Iowa, you lose the right to vote and run for public office. There’s an exception to that rule, though, if the governor chooses to restore those rights.

And Darryl Norquist hasn’t been able to vote since his third OWI, which gave him a felony conviction in 1998. 

“I’ve seen the margins of the votes are so close any more that I feel my vote would make a lot more of a difference than it used to,” said Norquist.

Secretary of State Paul Pate said back in 2016 that people like Norquist would have an uphill battle. 

“These are people who are bad people these are not jaywalkers. there is a price you pay for that. your time,” said Pate. “We have a real simple 13 questions filled out where you can get your rights restored “

Governor Reynolds alone has the power to give those rights back in Iowa, though she hinted the 
process may be changing.

“We’re going to sit down and I’m looking forward to making some recommendations, so stay tuned,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds and her team were swamped with letters before Election Day, to hear felons’ appeals.
Florida’s decision is a small part of what her team is weighing. 

“We’re looking at several criminal justice reforms and we’re going to take a look at several components of that, and hopefully that’ll be part of the condition of the state next year,” said Reynolds.

So far, Reynolds says she’s helped 88 people vote again. Norquist would like to join that list.

“Even though I might not agree with some of the crimes they may have done,” said Norquist. “But I think if they’ve paid their debt they should have the right to vote. It would make me feel more like an American, like I would have a voice.”

Governor Tom Vilsack allowed all felons to vote back in 2005, but when Governor Terry Branstad took over in 2011, he reversed that decision to the current one.

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