PAUL, MN — Late last night, the Minnesota Senate passed SF26, a bill that will restore voting rights for Minnesotans with felony convictions who are not currently incarcerated. The bill is a huge step forward for voting rights in Minnesota and is the culmination of years of advocacy by Common Cause Minnesota and the Restore the Vote Coalition.
The MN Senate’s bill follows the passage of its companion bill HF28, which was moved with bipartisan support off the House floor. Currently, 21 states allow people with felonies to vote immediately following the end of their incarceration. In contrast, Minnesota only restores voting rights once an individual has completed their sentence, including parole and/or probation.
“This bill means protecting the most important and sacred right we share as Americans, our right to vote,” said Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of CCMN. “Regardless of their record, Minnesotans deserve the opportunity to swiftly participate in our democratic process after the incarceration process has ended.”
The Restore the Vote coalition — a Minnesota-based coalition devoted to felon reenfranchisement of which CCMN is a member — recently held a rally in support of SF26. CCMN and the coalition have worked on voting restoration for years, from filing an amicus brief in Schroeder v. Minnesota Secretary of State to moving for legislative action within the state.
According to Locked Out 2022: Estimates of People Denied Voting Rights, a Sentencing Project report, an estimated 4.6 million Americans with felony convictions were banned from voting, a statistic that translates to two percent of the population. 5.3 and 1.7 percent of Black and Latino communities respectively are disenfranchised due to these laws.
Minnesota will now be the 22nd state to allow automatic restoration after release. And though just two states and D.C. allow those with felony records to remain voting, even while incarcerated, CCMN is proud that the Gopher State is taking the right steps toward justice.
“This is a major win for democracy and a blow to the racially tainted legacy that is disenfranchisement laws,” Belladonna-Carrera said. “By passing SF26, legislators will restore our friends, family, and neighbors’ constitutional rights and their belief in a fair and just Minnesota.”