Gov. Ricketts Vetoes Bill Granting Voting Rights to Newly-Released Felons
LB75 attempts to extend an unconstitutional “legislative pardon.”
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced he had vetoed LB 75, a bill that would allow convicted felons to vote immediately upon the completion of their prison term or end of parole. Under current law, convicted felons can vote two years after completing their criminal sentence.
“Despite claims of supporters of the bill, LB 75 does not relate to criminal justice reform. The state’s criminal justice reform efforts were adopted by the Legislature in 2015 with the passage of LB 605. Those reforms are currently being implemented and are completely unrelated to felons voting. While the rehabilitation of criminals is an important goal of the criminal justice system, the immediate restoration of voting rights is not the answer.
“Nebraskans are kind-hearted and do not wish to permanently punish convicted felons. The distinction, however, between the restoration of rights versus privileges must be noted. While the Legislature may restore certain privileges, such as driving privileges, to convicted felons, the Legislature may not circumvent the Nebraska Constitution to automatically restore a voting right in state law. Any efforts to restore a civil right explicitly revoked in the Nebraska Constitution requires changing the Nebraska Constitution.
“LB 75 is attempting to create the equivalent of a legislative pardon. This is not permissible under the Constitution.”
The Governor’s veto message to the Legislature can be found here: LB75 Veto Letter.pdf.