Gov. Beshear signs executive order restoring voting rights to so - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Beshear signs executive order restoring voting rights to some convicted felons

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On Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order restoring voting rights to some convicted felons. On Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order restoring voting rights to some convicted felons.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you've done the crime, but also done the time, you may now be able to vote and hold office in Kentucky.

Governor Steve Beshear, Tuesday, bypassed the legislature to make it happen.

It's an issue that has failed in the General Assembly for years. Now, as his time here at the Capitol winds down, Gov. Steve Beshear has taken action himself to restore voting rights to some ex-cons.

“The right to vote and the right to hold office are fundamental foundations of our democracy,” Beshear told a packed room of supporters at the Capitol.

Now, Beshear has restored those rights to more than 100,000 Kentuckians who have done their time behind bars.

His order excludes those who have committed violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason.

“If we can integrate more of our folks who have made a mistake back into society to be productive citizens, we all benefit,” said Beshear.

Beshear says he waited for the General Assembly to take action, but could wait no longer.

“We're one of four states in the country where this is not already automatic, and I think Kentucky ought to join the rest of those states,” he said.

But some are questioning whether Beshear's action is constitutional.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover, who supports restoring rights, calls the action, "... a prime example of this Governor following in the footsteps of President Obama and putting his own agenda above the people of Kentucky and the elected legislators who serve them." 

Beshear defended his action.

“The Kentucky Constitution clearly gives the governor the right to pardon people, and the right to restore the civil rights of people. That's exactly what I'm doing here today,” said Beshear.

Mantell Stevens spent 30 days in jail on a drug possession charge he committed 15 years ago. He's pleased the governor made the move.

“The issues that affect my neighbors; the issues that affect the schools, I now have a voice,” Stevens told WDRB.

Governor-elect Matt Bevin has also supported restoration of rights in the past.

But in a statement, he was non-committal, saying he would evaluate Beshear's order during the transition.

Beshear is still calling on lawmakers to put the issue on the ballot to amend the constitution. That way no future governor can undo his order. 

[REACTIONS TO GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDER]

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