NE: Nebraska lawmakers pass a bill to restore voting rights to newly released felons

Source: apnews.com 4/12/24

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to restore the voting rights of those convicted of felonies upon the completion of their sentences, including prison and parole time.

The bill, introduced for years by Omaha state Sen. Justin Wayne, passed by a wide margin in the last year of Wayne’s second term. He is barred by term limits from running this year for a third term.

Currently, a person who has been convicted of a felony must wait two years after completing all the terms of their conviction before regaining voting rights. Wayne’s measure eliminates that waiting period, established in 2005 by the Legislature. Prior to the waiting period, a person convicted of a felony lost their right to vote indefinitely.

The passage of the bill “means everything for the thousands of people who have not been full participants in society,” said TJ King, a Nebraska-based outreach specialist with the advocacy group Black and Pink who was unable to vote in the 2022 general election after coming off probation for drug and theft convictions three months earlier.

King said the bill’s passage is the final layer in his ability to be civically engaged and “have a full voice and complete connection to the community.”

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New Mexico’s voting law changed last summer. It once was that a felon needed to have finished his sentence including any supervision. Now a felon can vote if he is not currently incarcerated. Because of insanely long–up to life– terms of supervised release, most PFRs with federal convictions would never been able to vote. State parolees often faced the same situation.

Hopefully Nebraska’s governor doesn’t monkey this up, but time will tell if he’s a clown. Time for Nebraska to stop the tough on crime stance and actually give former felons a chance at a good life.

That’s great!

This just reminded me to register to vote since I got off supervision last month (after 22 years on supervision).

So Nebraska is finally catching up to what blue states have already been doing

Surprised there was no [Person Forced to Register] exception.

I researched a couple of different mass media articles which didn’t mention any registrant issues but I’ve not read the bill proper either to find out if there’s any such caveats within it.

Hallelujah! This is great news. I have not yet seen a carve out “except for PFRs”. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist of course. As for the issue of not being able to enter a school to vote (or other restricted site), in IL you can always vote by mail and locally at our City Hall with early voting.

I have read the final bill and there is a carve out for [People Forced to Register] (among many others) in the final reading of the bill at the NE Legislature page for LB20 – Provide for restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation for a felony (Final reading of the bill 11 April 2024 (PDF):

Para (3)(a) Except as provided in subdivision (3)(b) of this section whenever any person is convicted of an offense and is sentenced other than as provided in subsection (2) of this section, but is not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than one year, such person may, after completion of his or her sentence, petition the sentencing court to set aside the conviction.
(b) A petition under subdivision (3)(a) of this section shall be denied if filed:
(ii) During any period in which the person is required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act;

Unless I am reading it wrong, I believe those who are [persons Forced to Register] don’t get their right to vote back until they complete their SORA (forced) obligation and if that’s lifetime, then they never get it back. BTW, there are 7K people (felons) in NE impacted by this voting barrier from my reading. Besides a local NE office of the RSOL web, there is a Common Cause org who champions for voter restoration as well with a NE chapter.

Last edited 1 month ago by TS

Update: The governor allowed the bill to pass without signing it. Some people are not very happy about this.