Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today urged lawmakers in Kentucky to change the state’s laws and allow convicted felons to vote, adding a conservative voice to a plea Attorney General Eric Holder made last week to end such policies all over the country.
Kentucky, along with Iowa and Florida, are the only states in the nation that permanently ban felons from ever again voting. Holder condemned such laws last week as both unfair and having a disproportionate impact on African-Americans. Paul, testifying before a Kentucky State Senate committee on Wednesday, made a similar argument in supporting a proposal in Kentucky to restore felon voting rights.
The measure has been approved by the Kentucky’s House, which is controlled by Democrats. But it must not only pass the GOP-controlled State Senate, but also be approved by the state’s voters during November’s elections because it is a change to Kentucky’s constitution.
“When you look at those who are being deprived of voting, I think it is disproportionately people of color,” Paul said at today’s hearing, according to Slate.
His testimony is the latest move by Paul in his effort to appeal directly to minorities who have shunned the GOP in the past, particularly African-Americans.
The Kentucky senator spoke at Howard University last year and has become one of the leading Republican voices in urging reforms on U.S. drug sentencing policies that Paul, Holder and President Obama say have led to a disproportionate number of blacks serving prison time for drug crimes.