A proposal to help felons understand that their voting rights have been restored after they serve out their sentence was nixed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The governor vetoed the bill sponsored by Rep. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul) that would have required the Corrections Department and court officials to ensure that people convicted of a felony are aware of their civil rights status.
Under the proposed legislation, the Office of the Secretary of State would develop a publication regarding voting rights of those who are convicted of a crime and provide it to corrections and court officials, who would then inform convicts of when their right to vote is taken away and when it is restored.
Supporters said that some inmates are never informed of the restoration of their rights upon discharge from prison. Although the information is included in a letter sent to ex-offenders upon their release, many never receive the notice because they are frequently moving and living temporarily with friends and relatives.
In his veto message, Pawlenty stated the bill would have placed added mandates on state and local governments at a time when the state is trying to reduce mandates, and also that the purpose of the bill could be accomplished without statutory requirements.
“Moreover,” the message states, “citizens should bear some responsibility for being informed about their own situations and rights.”
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