Kentucky Governor Issues Executive Order on Rights Restoration

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order this morning that will make it possible for thousands of Kentucky citizens with past criminal convictions to get back their right to vote — an incredible breakthrough in the movement to end criminal disenfranchisement policies nationwide. Over 140,000 Kentuckians with past non-violent convictions and who have fully completed their sentences (including probation and parole) can act now to reclaim their voting rights, through a simple rights restoration process.

Going forward, Kentuckians completing sentences for non-violent felony convictions will automatically regain their voting rights – we estimate that another 30,000 people will have their voting rights restored over time. The figures used to assess the order’s impact were estimated using data from several sources, including the 2010 U.S. Census, theSentencing Project’s estimates of disenfranchised populations, and federal Bureau of Justice Statistics data of the proportion of individuals on parole and probation with felony convictions classified as non-violent or otherwise.

Those who have already completed their sentences can act today to reclaim their voting rights by signing up at a website to be announced. Please join the Brennan Center and other allies in sharing this information widely so that all eligible Kentuckians hear about the restoration process and can act quickly to seize this historic opportunity. Together, we can ensure that our fellow citizens can represent themselves, their children, and their communities at the ballot box.

Gov. Beshear’s announcement marks a major advancement and reflects many years of dedicated advocacy by many groups, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the ACLU of Kentucky, the Kentucky Council of Churches, and the Kentucky State Conference of the NAACP. Kentucky for too long been one of only a handful of states to impose lifetime disenfranchisement for all felony convictions. Today, that policy came to an end. Now, Iowa and Florida are the only remaining states to permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions.

Again, individuals who have already completed their sentences and believe they may be eligible for voting rights restoration under the new policy should act quickly and visit the state’s site for details on eligibility and how to initiate the rights restoration process. Please help us spread this message far and wide.  Folks with questions can reach out to the Brennan Center, Tomas Lopez ( or Myrna Pérez ( for more info.