Some Kentuckians Need to Reapply for Restoration of Their Voting Rights and Don't Know It

In Kentucky, people lose the right to vote upon conviction of a felony. In the past, people have had to individually apply to the Governor to have their voting rights restored after they had completed their sentences.


In December of 2019, Governor Beshear signed an Executive Order that automatically restored voting rights of many formerly incarcerated Kentuckians. This Order applies to people who have completed their sentence in the past and applies going forward (in other words, as long as Governor Beshear's Order is in effect, some Kentuckians who complete their sentences in the future will qualify for automatic restoration).


Governor Beshear's Order only restores voting rights to people convicted of felonies under Kentucky law. People whose felony convictions were in other states or in federal court will need to apply to the Governor individually for restoration of their voting rights. Further, Governor Beshear's Order is limited to specified crimes he characterizes as "nonviolent."


To find out more about Governor Beshear's Order, go here. To see if you are on the list of people eligible to register to vote under the Order, go here.


Governor Beshear's Executive Order was a big step forward for voting rights in Kentucky. But, it left a lot of people behind. According to the Kentucky League of Women Voters, almost 200,000 Kentuckians still cannot vote because of a felony conviction. Governor Beshear needs to do more. (You can join our movement by filling out the form at the bottom of this post.)


And, Governor Beshear left another group of Kentuckians behind. When he took office, Governor Beshear chose not to consider the applications Kentuckians had completed and submitted to his predecessor, Matt Bevin. Instead, he took the position that more than 800 Kentuckians would need to reapply to Governor Beshear personally.


Here's the problem: Governor Beshear refused to tell those 800+ Kentuckians who had already submitted completed applications that they needed to reapply!


A man named Rick Petro stands at a lecture. A sign saying "Register to Vote" and an American flag are in the background.
Rick Petro speaks at a voting rights rally.

KEJC and the Fair Elections Center brought a case against the Governor (Complaint) to make a Court order Governor Beshear to tell those Kentuckians who wanted to vote so badly that they took the time to apply that they need to reapply. Governor Beshear decided to spend more time and energy litigating the question than it would have taken to simply notify these Kentuckians of the need to reapply. And, unfortunately, Governor Beshear won in court (Franklin Circuit Court Order). (We know: total bummer.) So, now there are 800+ Kentuckians out there who want to vote, have applied to vote, but need to apply again and don't know it. If you're reading this, you may be one of them. Because Governor Beshear wouldn't, we are trying to reach every person who wants to vote but doesn't know they need to reapply.


If so, we understand that this is extremely frustrating, but we want to encourage you to apply again. Here is a link to reapply to have your voting rights restored.


You must obtain specific materials in order to reapply. The steps are written out in the application documents.


KEJC believes that everyone deserves the right to vote and felt that it was important to reach out and encourage you to reapply.


If you have questions or need assistance, please email Ben Carter at ben@kyequaljustice.org.


Whether you're a person who needs to reapply to have their voting rights restored or just a Kentuckian who would like to join the movement to ensure that every Kentuckian that loses their vote because of a felony conviction can vote again after completing their sentence, you can help KEJC by filling out this form: