With support from U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a weakened version of a bill restoring voting rights for some felons has cleared the Kentucky Senate. The issue hasn't had strong Republican support in the past. But Wednesday,
Paul spoke to lawmakers, reminding them of the Republican Party’s history of support for civil rights. And he noted the higher incarceration rates of African-Americans in Kentucky, where a fifth of black adults cannot vote due to a felony record.
“There was a time in our society where there were intentional incarcerations based on race. I don’t think it’s intentional, but there … has become a racial outcome on who’s incarcerated in our country, and I think that’s something that has to be addressed here. Because not only is the incarceration, I think, unfair, then they get out and the voting rights are impaired,” said Paul. The measure passed, but not in the form supported by the sponsor. Lawmakers added a five-year waiting period before rights are restored, and an exemption for anyone with multiple offenses. The changes reduce the number of affected felons by more than half.The original sponsor called the revised measure "justice for some."The measure has already cleared the House, but it will go back to that chamber as lawmakers review the new limitations.