More than 140,000 nonviolent felons in Kentucky had their voting rights restored Thursday by newly elected Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, reports The New York Times.
Kentucky was one of two states, along with Iowa, with a strict, enforced lifetime ban against ex-felons.
"By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky; we all matter," Beshear said after he signed the executive order.
The order applies to residents who have committed nonviolent offenses and have completed their sentences. It does now apply to sex offenders, rapists or murders.
Basher, who was sworn into office Tuesday, said it was an "injustice" that former felons were unable to "fully rejoin society by casting a vote on election day [and were] automatically denied regardless of the circumstances of their offense or their good work since serving their sentences."
"My faith teaches me forgiveness," Beshear said. "We all make mistakes."
Beshear's father, Steve Beshear, signed a similar executive order when he was governor, but it was overturned by former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Andy Beshear defeated Bevin in the state election last month.
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