Last week, Governor Terry Branstad’s office rolled out a new "streamlined application form for those seeking a restoration of their voting rights," so that "Iowa’s already simple voting rights restoration process will become even more efficient and convenient."
"Simple," "efficient," and "convenient" wouldn’t be my choice of words to describe a process used successfully by less than two-tenths of 1 percent of affected Iowans since Branstad ended the automatic restoration of voting rights for felons five years ago. The governor’s first stab at simplifying the system in December 2012 did not significantly increase the number of Iowans applying to get their rights back. Three years after that change, fewer than 100 individuals out of roughly 57,000 who had completed felony sentences since January 2011 had regained the right to vote.
The new double-plus-streamlined process seems unlikely to produce a large wave of enfranchised Iowans, because it leaves intact major barriers.
The latest announcement looks like an attempt to convince Iowa Supreme Court justices that they need not intervene to give tens of thousands of felons any realistic hope of exercising a fundamental constitutional right again.Continue Reading...