More than 55,000 felons will have the right to vote in Minnesota after Democratic governor Tim Walz signed a law doing away with voting bans for convicts under felony probation or supervision.
"As a state that consistently ranks among the top three in voter turnout, Minnesota will continue to lead in the fight to protect and expand the right to vote," said Walz, who signed the "Restore the Vote" bill on March 3.
The act goes into effect on July 1. Minnesota previously allowed felons to vote once they cleared probation, prison time, and supervision.
Minnesota's legislation marks Democrats' latest controversial effort regarding voting restrictions. In December, the Boston City Council held hearings to discuss the prospect of non-citizen immigrants voting in local elections, with one member arguing it would "enrich" the "concept of citizenship."
State Republicans argued that Minnesotans who commit serious crimes should first complete probation before being able to vote. Democrats refused and said voting rights ought to be restored immediately after release.
The Republican Party of Minnesota said Democrats "killed legislation to require murderers and rapists to complete their sentences before becoming eligible to vote."
Minnesota will join 21 other states that restore voting rights after prison release, the Epoch Times reported:
Currently, 21 other states restore the voting rights of felons once they leave prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, including Republican-led North Dakota, Indiana, and Utah.
In Maine, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, convicted felons are allowed to vote while they are still incarcerated, irrespective of their crimes—a situation some California lawmakers are currently looking to legalize in their state.
In 16 states, felons lose their voting rights while incarcerated and for a period of time after, according to the NCSL. Eleven other states completely strip felons of voting rights for some crimes, or require a pardon by the state’s governor or other action for rights to be restored.