Legislation to restore the voting rights of convicted felons once they are no longer behind bars cleared its first test in the Minnesota House Wednesday. But despite promising prospects for passage in the DFL-controlled House, the bill faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Rep. Ray Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, knows first-hand the challenges faced by convicted felons — he is one. Dehn’s trouble with the law came as a teenager. He won a pardon as an adult. As a state legislator, Dehn wants Minnesotans in similar circumstances to vote again sooner than is allowed under current law.
Several people spoke in favor of Dehn’s bill. No one testified against it.
Rob Stewart, of Owatonna, Minn., said he spent years trying to get his life back on track after a felony drug conviction. But Stewart, who now works for the group Second Chance Coalition, told lawmakers that being ineligible to vote made it hard.
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