Watch, learn & share

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We need to restore voting rights to the 47,000 Minnesotans living in our community who are ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction. Once the criminal justice system has determined that a person should be allowed to live in our community, there is no good reason they should not be allowed to have a voice in our democracy. Civic engagement should be encouraged, not prosecuted. Watch this video, share it with your friends and take action today! http://www.congressweb.com/CCJ/12

Action Alert: Support Restore the Vote

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Restore the Vote is once again before Minnesota state lawmakers.  Last year, the legislation was passed by the Senate before ultimately stalling in the House.  Restore the Vote will re-enfranchise approximately 47,000 people who are currently ineligible to vote, because of a felony conviction, even though they live and work in our communities.  Current policy, which this bill would change, unnecessarily and excessively discourages positive civic participation, perpetuates racial injustice, and adds cost and complications to voting.  The policy should be changed so that, like in many other states, once an individual is living in the community, they are eligible to vote.

Once the criminal justice system has determined that a person should be allowed to live in our community, there is no good reason they should not be allowed to have a voice in our democracy. Civic engagement should be encouraged, not prosecuted. Restore the Vote is supported by more than 70 Minnesota organizations from many different perspectives, including public safety organizations like the MN County Attorneys Association and MN Corrections Association; governmental bodies like the Association of Minnesota Counties; civil liberty, advocacy, and service organizations; and statewide groups representing every major faith perspective.

It is critically important that we raise awareness about Restore the Vote.  Please call and/or email your state legislators to urge them to support this legislation!

Click here to send a pre-drafted email to your Senator and State Representative.

Precinct Caucus 2016

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Attention voting rights restoration supporters! If you would like to help us grow support for voting rights restoration, then you should introduce a resolution at your precinct caucus on Tuesday, March 1st. Find your caucus location here.

Voting Restoration Caucus Resolution 2016

Hear Amber’s story – it’s time to restore the vote

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Minnesotans like Amber have been waiting far too long to get their right to vote back. Listen to Amber’s story about, hear what it was like to not be able to vote for so long. Do you have a story to share? Contact: contact@restorethevotemn.org

This video was produced by the League of Women Voters.

Support For Voting Rights Restoration Grows In Minnesota

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2015

Contact:  Jana Kooren, jkooren@aclu-mn.org, 651-485-5925 c or Sarah Walker, 612.220.2070, sarah@hillcapitolstrategies.com

St. Paul, Minn. – Recent professionally-conducted polling in Minnesota shows statewide support for voting rights restoration. A recent poll found that 46% of Minnesotans believe that individuals living in the community and paying taxes should be eligible to vote, even if they are still on probation or parole for a felony conviction, versus 44% who believe they should not.

Public Policy Polling, a professional non-partisan opinion research firm, asked the following question to 1015 registered voters in August 2015:

Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: Minnesota should adopt a policy that 20 other states use and allow those convicted of felonies to vote once they leave prison or jail.

Strongly agree 22%
Somewhat agree 24%
Somewhat disagree 18%
Strongly disagree 26%
Not sure 10%

41% of respondents identified themselves as conservative, and 33% as liberal: Very liberal 13%;  Somewhat liberal 20%; Moderate 26%; Somewhat conservative 25%; Very conservative 16%

“Disenfranchising American citizens has always been a bad thing – politically and morally – throughout our nation’s history. Liberty Minnesota is proud to support the effort to empower Minnesotans and give them a voice in their government,” stated Karl Eggers of Liberty Minnesota.

The Restore the Vote Coalition is working to restore voting rights to over 47,000 Minnesota citizens who live in the community but are unable to vote due to a felony conviction. Current Minnesota policy prohibits individuals from voting until they have finished all terms of their sentence, including probation, parole or conditional release.

Restoring voting rights to fellow Minnesotans who live in the community and pay taxes is supported by people across the ideological spectrum,” stated Jason Adkins, Executive Director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference. “Our coalition has had thousands of conversations with Minnesotans across the state who believe that allowing all Minnesota citizens who live in the community to vote would make our communities stronger, more engaged and more just. Polling only tell us so much based on a very short question. Once people understand the issue better and how it impacts Minnesotans and their families, we are finding that a strong majority support this change.”

The Restore the Vote Coalition, is made up of 72 organizations from across the state including, public safety organizations, governmental bodies, advocacy organizations and faith based groups.

The history and impact of felony disenfranchisement

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The University of Minnesota Law Review recently published an article on the history and impact of felony disenfranchisement in Minnesota by Mark Haase, a private attorney who represents the Council on Crime and Justice, a member of Restore the Vote MN.

Here is a summary:

Minnesota has retained essentially the same disenfranchisement law adopted upon gaining statehood in 1857. However, since that time, Minnesota’s criminal justice system has undergone massive changes, especially in its expansion in scope—resulting in one of the highest rates of correctional control in the country, and therefore one of the highest rates of felony disenfranchisement in the country and by far in the region. A cost-benefit analysis reveals that there are no tangible benefits to Minnesota’s current disenfranchisement policy, that its costs are high, and that there are tangible benefits to reform. The policy provides no public safety benefit, may even reduce public safety, perpetuates racial disparities, confuses elections, and unnecessarily expends government resources. These negative policy impacts weighed against little to no benefit, combined with changes in criminal justice politics and recent national events, may provide a ripe time for reforming this outdated policy.

Read the complete law review article.

An Open Letter to Speaker Daudt

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Dear Speaker Daudt,

This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 ALL members of the Minnesota delegation voted for it. That speaks so strongly to Minnesota’s value of supporting a strong, engaged and fair electorate which rings true across party lines. We have a chance to show that we can come together and uphold this ideal, by passing voting rights restoration.

We ask you to take advantage of the upcoming special session to complete some unfinished business from the regular session – the restoration of voting rights to the approximately 47,000 Minnesotans who live in our communities but still cannot vote due to a felony conviction. This legislation was passed during the regular session by the Senate and we are grateful Governor Dayton has made it one of his priorities for the special session. However, despite strongly bipartisan authorship and support, and despite the diverse membership of our statewide coalition, rights restoration legislation was never allowed to even have a hearing in the House. We met with every Representative that would take a meeting and provided them with detailed, fact-based information. Furthermore, we engaged thousands of Minnesota citizens to speak with their Representatives on this issue. We are deeply disappointed that, despite our success in doing everything a group of citizens can do to bring a policy issue to a vote by our elected leaders, a decision was made behind closed doors to block it from moving forward. We hope you will take this opportunity to give this bipartisan legislation the public consideration it deserves.

As you can see by our membership of over 70 organizations from across the state, voting restoration has support from diverse and important perspectives. We all support restoring voting rights because we believe that once it has been decided that someone can live among us, there is no good reason they should not have a voice in our democracy – taking the positive step of voting should be encouraged. People who feel a part of their communities, and have an opportunity to positively engage in their communities, are less likely to reoffend. Current law is confusing and this change will create a much clearer rule about who can vote, which would save valuable law enforcement resources and make it simpler for all Minnesotans to engage in our state’s democracy.  We should insist on responsibility and consequences for crime, but we should not simply punish for punishment’s sake.  Instead we should work to rehabilitate people and allow them to be a positive example for their children. These friends, neighbors and family members of ours are expected to pay taxes and be subject to our laws and yet current policy denies them the right to vote. This is not the America or the Minnesota that our founders envisioned.

For the above reasons we ask that you, as a statewide leader, support voting restoration language being voted on by the full House during special session.  This issue is extremely important to many Minnesotans and it deserves public consideration. Please also consider the impact on your own constituents and their families. Estimates of Minnesotans disenfranchised in the counties in your district are as follows: Anoka County 3,689, 1.5% of the voting age population; Isanti County 464, 1.6% of the voting age population; and Sherburne County 988, 1.6% of the voting age population. The statewide average disenfranchisement rate is 1.5%.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

The Restore the Vote Coalition