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House Considers Amendment 4 Implementation

February 14th, 2019 by Jake Stofan

Lawmakers are still debating how to register more than a million newly eligible voters following the passage of Amendment 4.

Two House Committees heard from prosecutors, elections supervisors, clerks of courts and state agency heads Thursday, to learn what issues need to be addressed.

Amendment Four automatically restores the voting rights of all felons in the state who have completed their sentence, excluding those convicted of murder or sex crimes.

It’s considered the largest expansion of voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

While qualified felons began registering January 8th, lawmakers say some basic questions need answers, like what is murder and what is a sex crime?

“Felony sexual offenses I can tell you there is a wide array of offenses that people of good faith can differ over about whether they should or should not be included,” said Representative Paul Renner.

While lawmakers believe those questions can be answered relatively quickly, other issues may take more time.

For instance, there is currently no single place a person or agency can go to definitively find out if a person has completed their sentence.

Renner says creating one could streamline the roll out of amendment 4.

“Where someone can walk out of prison or walk out of their probation office when their sentence is complete and have that certificate and everybody sees that across all the agencies that are involved… I think is where we want to go,” said Renner.

Clemency attorney Reggie Garcia says a more urgent issue is defining what constitutes a completed sentence.

“I think where the ambiguity comes is whether there’s unpaid restitution or court costs,” said Garcia.

Prosecutors say until lawmakers clear up the ambiguity surrounding Amendment 4, they have no intention of prosecuting people who mistakenly think they qualify and register to vote.

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