Cedar Rapids man reacts to having voting rights restored by Reynolds’ executive order

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 4:47 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Kim Reynolds today signed a long-awaited executive order automatically restoring voting rights for some felons in Iowa. The order fulfilled a promise she made to Black Lives Matter protesters in June. Until now, felons in Iowa had to apply with the Governor to be able to vote again.

Since getting out of prison for a drug-related offense, Jordan Phillips of Cedar Rapids is putting his life back together. He now has a job and this November he’ll be able to vote again.

“I thought it was great, it allows me to you know, become involved and connected to do my key part in my citizenship and have a voice,” Phillips said.

Julie Redmond, with DES employment, helped Phillips get his job and said criminal histories carry a lot of baggage.

“We believe in second chances like Governor Reynolds did today. That it is so imperative for people not to have that stigma held over their heads the rest of their lives,” Redmond said.

Redmond said DES Employment has tried to help some felons apply to have their voting rights restored in the past. She knows how much that can mean to someone.

“I think this is just one more step for people with that stigma that they can do this and they are just as important as the person next to them without a criminal history,” Redmond said.

Reynolds’ order only applies to people who have completed their sentence and doesn’t apply for homicide - those people still need to apply. Redmond said many of those now able to vote might push key issues to the spotlight.

“One of the biggest things for people that are getting their rights to vote back is the stance on prison reform or criminal justice reform. I think that is going to be in the back of their minds on what are both of these candidates going to do for that system,” she said.

For Phillips, he’s happy to feel like someone in government will be listening to his viewpoint.

“You know, not having the opportunity to say anything whether it be national, state or local – it’s just a voice you don’t have, the whole society where you made some mistakes, to get that voice taken from them, it’s a bummer,” Phillips said.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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