“Let them vote! Let them vote!” Black Lives Matter protesters chanted a few minutes after Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill on June 12. Reynolds did not acknowledge hearing them, continuing to pass out pens to advocates of the legislation, which the Iowa House and Senate had unanimously approved the night before.
The protesters want the governor to sign an executive order automatically restoring voting rights to Iowans who have completed felony sentences. Iowa has the country’s strictest felon voting ban, which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. Reynolds has resisted calls to issue an executive order, saying she wants the legislature to approve a state constitutional amendment on felon voting instead.
The Iowa legislature adjourned for the year on June 14 without the constitutional amendment clearing the Senate.
For many thousands of Iowans with felony convictions, an order from Reynolds provides the only path to voting before 2024. She should issue one as soon as possible.