Senate To Consider Felon Voting Rights, Waiting Period

Jan 17, 2014

A bill that would automatically restore voting rights for non-violent felons in Kentucky has taken another step toward passage.

The bill handily passed in the Democratically-controlled House, but likely won't be well-received in the GOP-led Senate. Similar bills have died there in previous years.

Republican Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer said he won't support the bill unless it includes an amendment that would create a waiting period before the rights are restored.

 “I can’t support it the way it’s written, with automatic restoration, the minute they walk out of jail, and have served all their time and parole, etc.,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul supports restoring felon voting rights, and his advocacy is expected to help the bill. Thayer said the issue could pass this year if there's a compromise.

“We appreciate Sen. Paul’s position on any issue, and he has publicly and privately urged us to support this,” Thayer said. “Bbut I think it’s more of, you know, the caucus has changed and philosophies have changed, and this may just be an issue whose time has come, with a few minor changes, if people are willing to compromise.”

Thayer didn’t say whether that compromise will mean passing a law to require a photo ID in order to vote. He supports voter ID laws, but critics contend they disenfranchise minorities and face legal challenges.