Policy Advocacy Brief
Issue Statement/Executive Summary
The current felon disenfranchisement policies in Minnesota undermine the essential voting rights necessary for democracy to thrive. Minnesota currently outranks many founding NATO countries in incarceration rates per 100,000 in population. If an individual in Minnesota is convicted of a felony, their right to vote is revoked until they complete their sentence, probation, or parole. This is especially problematic because Minnesota’s probationary periods extend into decades long punitive measures. Governor Mark Dayton’s Task Force suggestions of allowing felons to vote after incarceration is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough to alleviate the problem of felon disenfranchisement. In order to correct this unjust policy of felon disenfranchisement, we recommend a new path forward: (1) A total reform of felon disenfranchisement policies in Minnesota by automatically restoring the voting rights to felons currently incarcerated, and those on probation and parole, (2) Criminal defendants are to be informed of their right to vote upon their immediate restoration and that they are eligible to register to vote, and (3) The Department of Corrections and Probation and Parole authorities responsible for assisting with voluntary voter registration, ensuring all citizens are subject to the same application procedures.
Rudell, J., Sanders, S., Shae, K., Stensvold, E., & Westman, L. (2019). Voting rights & felon disenfranchisement: A new path forward. MSW Program Policy Briefs, Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/msw-student-policy-advocacy-briefs/19