So State Senator Damon Thayer, R-17, wrote an editorial in the Georgetown News-Graphic expressing exasperation over why some people believe that Kentucky’s current system of felon voter rights restoration is outmoded and inefficient. Yet his argument — that the system is fine as it is — is rife with enough oversimplifications and inaccuracies to warrant mild rebuke.
“It’s hard to imagine an easier process than ours to re-integrate felons into society,” he writes, apparently unaware of the 48 other states in this hallowed union whose restoration statutes are automatic and, therefore, much easier on both the felon and the Governor, who doesn’t have to bother reviewing pardons (like our own).
Thayer also glosses over the fact that too many felons (and our correctional officers) are confused or unware of the process when he says that “We have Division of Probation and Parole employees to assist any eligible felon in completing the form, which is then forwarded to the governor.” Regardless of how easy Thayer makes it sound, most individuals on both sides of the bars haven’t a clue on where to begin this process.
Lastly, he wrongfully contends that “House Bill 70, which failed in the Senate earlier this year, would create two classes of felons – those who don’t have to do anything to regain their rights and those who must rely on the favor of the governor,” which is ironic because he essentially winds up advocating a system that already creates two classes of human beings: Those who can vote, and the Dickensian wretches who cannot. In effect, all House Bill 70 would do is grant felons who’ve lived in the state for more than a year, are at least 18-years of age and not convicted of murder, treason or other insane behavior the automatic right to cast a ballot in an election. Simple.
As head of the Local & State Government Committee, Thayer is the legislative keyhole through which this bill might ultimately pass, which makes it all the more “puzzling” as to why he would waste an opportunity to educate his constituents on the realities of this issue.