FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Members of the Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition made some noise at the state capital Wednesday afternoon. Former felons and supporters held a rally on equal voting rights for former offenders.
The group is in support of House Bill 70 and Senate Bill 15, legislation to establish automatic restoration of voting rights for most former felons. Those convicted of crimes involving treason, murder, sexual offenses, or bribery in an election wouldn't be eligible.
Rep. Jesse Crenshaw of Lexington spoke at the rally. He sponsors HB 70.
"If you do the crime, you have to do the time. But after the person has paid their debt to society, we should welcome them back in our society with open arms," Crenshaw said.
Allowing felons to vote requires a constitutional change. Which means the house, senate, and governor have to approve it. Then, it goes to the voters.
The group says a quarter of a million Kentuckians can't vote because of felony convictions.
"It shouldn't be us and them any longer. It should be us as a democracy," said Michael Hiser, a former felon.
If legislation passes during this session, restoring voting rights for felons could be on the ballot this fall.