JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, introduced SB 924 on Thursday, dubbed the “Missouri Restoration of Voting Rights Act.”
Currently, felons on probation or parole may not vote. The bill would restore suffrage to those citizens.
“Probation and parole are meant to prevent citizens convicted of crimes from doing bad things, not good things, like voting,” said Schaaf. “The Missouri Restoration of Voting Rights Act would give back the vote to thousands of citizens who are currently denied a say in how they and their families are governed.”
Schaaf reported that of the more than 60,000 Missourians currently on probation or parole, about 26.1 percent are African-American, even though African-Americans only account for about 11.8 percent of Missouri’s population. The Senator likened the restriction to Jim Crow laws that “once systematically disenfranchised many African-Americans.”
“Not only does the current law undermine our democratic system, but it disproportionately affects African-Americans, a group that has already been the object of far too much legal discrimination.”
Fifteen other states have already extended voting rights to those serving probation or parole. Organizations such as the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the American Probation and Parole Association support the policy.
The bill excludes those who are on probation or parole for voter fraud.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.