State falls short stopping felons from voting, group says

A conservative group criticizing Gov. Mark Dayton's Task Force on Election Integrity says Minnesota needs to do a better job telling felons they can't vote while they're on parole or probation.

The group Minnesota Majority has been calling attention to illegal felon voting for years. The state shouldn't loosen its law prohibiting felons from voting while they are on parole or probation, said the groups executive director Dan McGrath.

The governor's task force released recommendations Monday for reducing the number of felons who vote illegally in Minnesota elections. The report stops short of endorsing a proposal to restore voting rights to felons once they're released from prison, but it points out such a policy has worked well in North Dakota.

"The problem is, these people are ineligible to vote by virtue of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, and because it's a good idea to disenfranchise people that are still paying their debt to society," McGrath said.

More than 160 Minnesota felons have been charged with voting illegally since the 2008 election.

The report suggests many felons may not realize they have to wait until their sentence is complete before they vote — even if they're released from prison. Task force co-chair Joe Nunez said judges and probation officers should inform felons of the rights they've lost.

"We don't think that they go far enough in highlighting the fact that the right to vote is one of the civil liberties that you lose when you're convicted of a felony and serve a felony sentence," Nunez said.

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