FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) — The November election is close, and the deadline to register to vote in it is even closer. Advocates are working to spread the word about restoring voting rights to those who had their voice taken away.
In Kentucky, anyone charged with a felony at any point in their life automatically has their voting rights stripped away. But in 2019, Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order restoring that right to most non-violent felons, however, four years later, there’s still many that don’t know they can exercise their right to vote.
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“It is something that goes with us for the rest of our lives. And it’s amazing how many of our fellow Kentuckians insist on that remaining true,” Tip Moody told FOX 56. Moody is a voting rights advocate with the League of Women Voters and an organizer with Advocacy Based on Lived Experience, or “ABLE.”
The question Moody often likes to ask on the issue of restoring voting rights to felons much like him is: have you ever made a mistake that follows you for the rest of your life?
“Other states have certain carve-outs which make you lose your voting rights. But the Commonwealth has any felony for the rest of your life,” Moody explained.
Moody spent almost 30 years as a meth addict before it landed him behind bars. He’d spent his career in political fundraising, and the right to vote was something he’d always held close. Losing it was a blow, as was the shock of learning he’d had that right restored.
“Not a letter, not a phone call, not an email, not a thing from my county clerk. Not a thing. Not a thing. And that is a problem,” he said.
Although the executive order came down four years ago, Moody said there are likely countless people who still don’t know about it. Nor is it permanent, which is why Moody is taking his message to the General Assembly with the hope they pass a bill to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
“There are some legislators who do support the issue; there are some who support it sort of. And there are some who oppose it. It goes back to you done it; you did it, you’re going to live with it,” he said. “If I have satisfied all of those requirements, who is someone else to tell me that I need to still suffer the social and legislative consequences of something bad I’ve done? When the courts have said, ‘no, you’re finished.’”
The clock is running short to participate in this election if someone is not registered to vote. That deadline is Oct. 10. People with non-violent felony convictions who have served their time can check their registration status and register on civilrightsrestoration.ky.gov.