The ‘felon notification bill’ SF164 will be heard in the Senate on Tuesday, February 19 in Judiciary in Capitol Room 15 at 12:00 PM. This bill does not restore the right to vote, but rather makes improvements to how the state notifies voters if and when their voting rights are restored/revoked.
Many Voices for Racial Justice oppose this bill, not because the bill itself is bad but because it perpetuates the current policy of disenfranchisement. This bill originates from the report of the Governor’s Election Integrity Task Force, which examined both re-enfranchisement (which we support) and improving the notification process for people whose voting rights have been revoked. The report does suggest ways to improve notification, but also notes that no system will be perfect; some citizens will still not be properly notified of their voting right status.
The Early Voting bill SF 535 will also be heard this week, on Wednesday, February 20 in the Senate Elections Sub-Committee at 12 PM in Capitol Room 123. Voices for Racial Justice support this bill for opening up access to voting.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Attend Tuesday’s hearing to show your support for voting rights restoration, not merely notification improvements. Let’s fill the room to show legislators that the solution the community supports most is not this bill (despite its good intentions) but actually restoring voting rights for citizens who have served their time and are now living in the community again. Second Chance Coalition stickers/buttons may be available for people to wear and show their support.
Attend Wednesday’s hearing to show your support for early voting (along with no-excuse absentee).
Consider testifying, making phone calls, and visiting your legislator to share your views on both of these issues. Particularly powerful would be hearing from citizens who are currently disenfranchised or were in the past, to speak on what restoring the right to vote upon release form incarceration would mean to them, or how being disenfranchised while living in the community impacted their reintegration process. What obstacles — job responsibilities, childcare issues, transportation barriers — have you faced in accessing your right to vote and how could early voting make it easier for you to participate?
Sign up for a phone banking shift to call likely supporters of these issues and have them contact their elected officials. The phone bank dates and sign up links are below. Please share with others who may be interested.
- Thursday, February 21, 6pm-9pm at TakeAction Minnesota
- Thursday, February 28, 6pm-9pm at TakeAction Minnesota
Contact Jeff Narabrook of the Voting Rights Coalition for more information. Call 651-757-3062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.