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Iowa governor signs voting rights bill requiring restitution

June 4, 2020 GMT
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed a bill that will allow convicted felons to get their voting rights back only after they have paid full restitution to victims.

The bill becomes effective if the legislature passes a proposed constitutional amendment automatically restoring voting rights for convicted felons.

Reynolds, who has pushed for restoration of felon voting rights, initially opposed Republican lawmakers’ efforts to pass the restitution requirement. However, she changed her position once GOP senators said they would not pass the constitutional amendment unless she agreed to the repayment requirement.

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It’s unclear if the bill would withstand a court challenge.

In February, a federal appeals court in Atlanta declared a similar Florida requirement unconstitutional.

Republicans argue the bill respects crime victims.

“This bill ensures the right to victims are protected by clarifying that victim restitution must be repaid before Iowans’ voting rights are restored,” Reynolds said Thursday.

In debate on the bill in the House, Democratic Rep. Ross Wilburn criticized the measure as providing a second chance only for those who can afford it. He said it will not be well received by those who are protesting racial injustice in recent days.

“It’s just going to continue to stoke those flames,” he said.