The Fair Elections Center and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center have filed a lawsuit against the state of Kentucky for preventing people with felony convictions from voting.
The lawsuit argues that Kentucky’s policies for restoring voting rights are arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Kentucky’s restoration process requires felons with completed sentences to submit an application that’s decided by the governor “who has unconstrained power to grant or deny restoration with no rules, laws or criteria governing these determinations.”
“If people take responsibility for their mistakes and complete their sentences, they shouldn’t have to beg the government to regain their right to vote as American citizens,” said Stephon Harbin, a Louisville resident and plaintiff.
The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Bryan LaMar Comer, Roger Wayne Fox II and Deric Lostutter.
Lostutter, a one-time computer hacker activist known as “KYAnonymous,” was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 for accessing a computer illegally and lying to the FBI. He was released in May last year and filed a lawsuit later that year when he found out how many other people were banned from voting in Kentucky.
“All nonviolent felony offenders should have the right to vote,” he said.
Not everyone agrees with restoring voting rights to felons, including Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. He believes voting is a privilege that should be denied to felons. During a 2002 congressional debate, he said, “Those who break our laws should not have a voice in electing those who make and enforce our laws.”
“With Florida adopting a nonarbitrary voting rights restoration system, Kentucky is fighting an increasingly lonely battle to preserve a 19th century system that forces American citizens to plead for restoration of their voting rights,” said Jon Sherman, senior counsel at Fair Elections Center.