Chris Uggen's Blog: pardon me, governor...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

pardon me, governor...

After a round of stories in June, I'm getting new questions on Iowa, which formerly had a very restrictive ex-felon voting ban. Governor Tom Vilsack issued an executive order restoring voting rights to all former felons in that state in July, but did he really abolish the practice of disenfranchising ex-felons? Kind of. The Iowa Constitution grants the governor the power to pardon those convicted of "infamous crimes" or felonies:

A pardon is given when the governor grants a certificate of restoration to one convicted of an infamous crime. The effect is to restore the convict of all rights of citizenship, including the right to vote and hold office. These rights are not restored unless the governor grants certificate of restoration, which can be granted after final discharge from penal institution.
So, as long as Governor Vilsack remains in office, corrections officials can regularly forward names to his office for restoration of rights. I don't know enough con. law to be sure (sadly, the great legal mind has left the building), but Article II, Section 5 of Iowa's Constitution would still appear to restrict felon voting rights.

No idiot, or insane person, or person convicted of any infamous crime, shall be entitled to the privilege of an elector.

A new governor could conceivably resume the practice of disenfranchising former felons, perhaps with an executive order overturning Governor Vilsack's order. Even if it doesn't apply to future felons, however, the change is a big deal, once and for all restoring rights to the roughly 100,000 people convicted of felonies in that state, whether they left prison in 1954 or 2004. Under no scenario that I can imagine could a new governor "re-dis-enfranchise" them.

The practical question for me and Jeff Manza and experts like Marc Mauer at the Sentencing Project, is whether to remove Iowa from the list of states that disenfranchise former felons. By my count that list includes blanket restrictions in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Virginia, and Wyoming. Other states disenfranchise some categories of former felons [Arizona (recidivists only), Delaware (5-year waiting period), Maryland (violent recidivists), Mississippi, Nebraska (2-year wait) Nevada (recidivists and violent), Tennessee (convicted prior to law's repeal), Washington (prior to law's repeal)] . It would be bizarre to see a parenthetical note for Iowa such as "(convicted 1/1/2006-12/31/2010)" on that list. If Governor Vilsack's order is reversed, however, it would represent the first new restriction on the voting rights of former felons in several decades. At least I think it would be a new restriction...

3 Comments:

At 7:13 AM, Anonymous sarah said...

Perhaps you should give the state a five year waiting period...

 
At 9:09 AM, Anonymous chris said...

Maybe so. Executive orders (or recess appointments, for that matter) have always made me nervous. They don't seem to fit the whole "separation of powers" version of governance that Montesquieu and James Madison advanced so persuasively. Yet nobody seems to get *too* worked up over them, except in matters of war.

 
At 12:04 AM, Blogger cutepig said...

Next week is my boyfriend birthday, I do not know choose what present for his birthday, my good friend tell me that you can buy the flyff penya do the present, because he was very like to play the Flyff, yes, this is a good idea, but I do not know how to buy flyff penya and where wo buy the flyff gold, so this is a different problem for me, so I hope know how to buy the cheap flyff penya can told me, in here I was very thank for you.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home