On Wednesday, August 6, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed Executive Order 7, restoring the voting rights of thousands of Iowans who have completed their felony sentences.
As per the Governor’s official website, “Iowa’s Constitution currently states that anyone convicted of a felony permanently loses the right to vote or hold public office unless the Governor restores those rights. Governor Reynolds has proposed an amendment to the constitution to fix this issue permanently. But because the process to ratify an amendment will likely take several additional years, the Governor has signed Executive Order 7, restoring the right to vote to nearly all Iowans who have been convicted of a felony and have successfully completed their sentences.”
1. Who is covered by Executive Order 7?
Executive Order 7 restores the rights of citizenship to any person convicted of a felony, except for a violation of chapter 707 of the Iowa Code (“Homicide and Related Crimes”), and who has discharged his or her sentence on or before August 5, 2020.
- “Discharge of sentence” means the completion of any term of confinement, parole, probation, or other supervised release for all felony convictions, and completion of any special sentence imposed pursuant to chapter 903B.
- Non-Iowa Convictions. Executive Order 7 applies to felony convictions in any jurisdiction, including felony convictions in federal court or the court of another state, to the extent that the conviction resulted in a loss of citizenship rights in Iowa.
- Firearm Rights. Restoration of voting rights under Executive Order 7 does not include firearms restoration. Any individual seeking a pardon or to have firearm rights restored must submit a separate application to the Iowa Board of Parole.
2. What if a person discharges his or her sentence after August 5, 2020?
On a daily basis, the Governor will restore the rights of citizenship to any person convicted of a felony, except for a violation of chapter 707 of the Iowa Code (“Homicide and Related Crimes”), and who has discharged his or her sentence. The restoration of rights is effective immediately upon discharge of the sentence without any further action required. The certificate of restoration of citizenship, issued daily, serves as evidence of the restoration of citizenship rights for those individuals.
3. Who loses their voting rights?
Not all individuals that face criminal charges actually lose the right to vote. Individuals lose their rights when convicted of a felony criminal offense. Two common examples of whose who do not lose their rights are:
- Misdemeanors. An individual convicted of an aggravated, serious, or simple misdemeanor never lost his or her right to vote because it is not classified as a felony.
- Deferred Judgments. An individual who was given a deferred judgment for a felony and who is on probation or has successfully discharged probation has not lost the right to vote.
4. Who is still required to apply for the restoration of voting rights?
- Executive Order 7 does not restore citizenship rights to those convicted of felony violations of chapter 707 of the Iowa Code (“Homicide and Related Crimes”). Those individuals may continue to apply for the restoration of voting rights once the person has discharged probation or parole. The applicant must have completed repayment of court costs, restitution, and fines or must be current on a payment plan.
- Individuals who were convicted of felony homicide offenses are excluded from the restoration and must continue to individually apply for restoration.
Sources and Additional Information:
Gov. Reynolds signs Executive Order to restore voting rights of felons who have completed their sentence