An election task force recommended last month that Minnesota reconsider whether felons should be allowed to vote once they leave prison.
Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) told the Star Tribune that he was skeptical about the idea:
[Simon] noted that Dayton has said repeatedly that he would not sign any election bills that lack bipartisan support and "I don't know if a single Republican would vote for" a liberalization of the rules on felons voting.
Given that, his own doubts and the series of policy questions he has about changing the law, he said: "I think it's next to impossible for it to pass."
But groups, including TakeActionMN, are pushing for the change. They note 13 other states, including North Dakota, allow such voting restoration.
"People on probation or parole live in our communities and are expected to find employment and be positive contributors to society," noted Dan McGrath, TakeActionMN's executive director, in an email statement to MPR news. "It only makes sense that their civil rights, including their voting rights, are fully restored when not incarcerated. This reform would help to better integrate ex-offenders into our communities and simplify Minnesota's election system so that there are no more cases of mistaken voting."
But Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, noted in his own email to MPR news that, "The main way we punish felons in our country is deprivation of rights - of freedom of movement, to possess firearms, to freely associate and to vote. Many people convicted of felonies never serve any actual time in prison. Probation is the entirety of their sentence. If felons on probation have their rights restored, what's the penalty for their crimes? We believe it would likely require a constitutional amendment to allow felons on probation to vote."
Simon joins The Daily Circuit Monday, Feb. 4 to discuss the prospects for such legislation in this year's session.