Gov. Walz signs ‘Restore the Vote’ bill into law

(ABC 6 News) – Friday, Governor Tim Walz signed a bill that will restore voting rights to over 55,000 formerly incarcerated Minnesotans.

Previously, people with felony convictions would have to complete parole before being eligible to vote.

The bill would ensure voting rights for people with felony convictions when they complete their incarceration.

Currently, 21 other states have legislation that gives people with felony convictions the right to vote after their incarceration.

“Minnesotans who have completed time for their offenses and are living, working, and raising families in their communities deserve the right to vote. As a state that consistently ranks among the top three in voter turnout, Minnesota will continue to lead in the fight to protect and expand the right to vote,” said Governor Walz. “I am grateful to the community members, organizers, and legislators who are committed to strengthening the freedom to vote and ensuring every Minnesotan has a voice in our democracy.”

The ACLU of Minnesota reacted to the signing of the bill. ACLU-MN Executive Director Deepinder Mayell said, “the ACLU of Minnesota applauds the decision to end this discriminatory law that led to racial disparities in voting and political inequality. The goal of the criminal legal system is supposed to be rehabilitation, redemption and helping people rejoin their communities. While there is still much work to be done, this new law brings us one step closer to achieving this goal by giving people a voice and a vote in their own futures.” 

The bill also requires Department of Corrections or judiciary system officials to provide a written notice and a voter registration application to individuals upon their release from incarceration.

In February, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld state laws that prohibit people with felony convictions from voting until they finish their parole, and put the burden on the Legislature.

RELATED: Minnesota justices leave felon voting issue to Legislature

The Senate passed House File 28, also known as the Restore the Vote Act, in February by a 35-30 vote. It passed the House 71-59 earlier in the month.

The Restore the Vote initiative goes into effect July 1.

To view the full legislation, click here.