Government Military and Veterans Affairs

Elimination of felon voting restriction advanced

Lawmakers gave first-round approval March 20 to a measure that would more quickly restore voting rights for felons in Nebraska.

Sen. Justin Wayne
Sen. Justin Wayne

Currently, a person automatically regains his or her voting rights two years after completion of a felony sentence, including parole. LB20, introduced by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne last session, would eliminate this waiting period.

Wayne said Nebraska is the only state that attaches an arbitrary waiting period before voting rights are restored after a person’s sentence is complete. LB20 simply would do away with that “additional penalty,” he said.

“At the end of the day, when you have completed your sentence – when you are done – you should be able to participate in our society fully and completely,” Wayne said.

Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer, chairperson of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, agreed. Speaking in support of the bill, he said people who have paid for their crimes must be allowed to reenter society or they run the risk of cycling in and out of the correctional system.

Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood opposed the measure. Given that the state once imposed a lifetime ban, he said, two years is a reasonable amount of time for someone to wait before regaining their right to vote.

Senators advanced LB20 to select file on a vote of 34-3.

Bookmark and Share