Nebraska gov mulling bill to re-enfranchise ex-felons

Nebraska could be the next place to take a step forward on voting rights for ex-felons — but it’s up to the state’s governor.

On Monday, lawmakers passed a bill by 27-13 to restore voting rights to former felons who have completed their full sentence (Nebraska lawmakers are officially non-partisan). Currently, ex-felons must wait for two years before getting to vote again.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, hasn’t yet said whether he’ll sign the bill, and his spokesman didn’t immediately respond to our requests for comment via phone and email.

The bill’s backers in the legislature would need 30 votes to override a veto. Seven lawmakers abstained from Monday’s vote, and two were absent.

In recent years, Virginia and Maryland, among other states, have loosened rules on voting by ex-felons, and there’s a grassroots effort underway in Florida to overturn, by ballot initiative, that state’s lifetime ban.

All but 12 states allow former felons to vote once they’ve completed their sentences. Only Iowa and Kentucky, in addition to Florida, disenfranchise ex-felons for life unless the governor restores their rights individually.

Nationally, an estimated 6.1 million Americans, disproportionately African-Americans, are disenfranchised because of a past felony conviction.

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