The Minnesota State Senate passed the Restore the Vote bill Tuesday night, 35 to 30, with bipartisan support.
Once enacted into law, convicted felons will be able to vote as soon as they get out of prison. Up until now, they have been required to complete their parole before casting a ballot.
“We know in the state of Minnesota right now we have 55,000 of our friends, our neighbors and family members who are not allowed to vote,” Senate President Bobby Champion (DFL) said. “Remember, they are safe, they are paying taxes, they are raising families, and they are doing everything they need to be doing to be in our communities.”
The ACLU has been fighting the courts to restore voting rights for over two decades; the Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that a change to voting must be handled at the legislature.
Last week the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that it was constitutional to bar felons from voting after being released from incarceration. The Restore the Vote bill changes that, making it unconstitutional to hinder the ability of felons on probation to vote.
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk; Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has already said he will sign it into law. When passed, Minnesota will be the twenty-second state to restore the voting rights of felons on probation.