Sen. Rand Paul has support of Democratic Sen. Harry Reid on felon voting rights bill

06/24/2014 06:34 PM

Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has found an unlikely ally in U.S. Senate in Majority Leader Harry Reid, at least on a measure which would return non-violent felons their right to vote.

Paul has been pushing to restore the voting rights to non-violent felons in Kentucky, speaking to community members in West Louisville about the initiative and appearing in a state Senate committee meeting in February.

The legislation, which was drafted in the form of a constitutional amendment, was changed by state Senate Republicans in Frankfort, and never made it to a floor vote in the Senate.

In the United States Senate, Paul is expected to introduced legislation this week to restore the right to vote for non-violent felons and as Politico reports, he even wants to redefine some felony drug sentencing.

“This is a much bigger problem than anything else limiting voting right now. Nearly a million people can’t vote. And I want to help people get their right to vote back,” Paul told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday.

As Paul noted in the interview with Crowley, a higher rate of African-Americans have felony convictions for non-violent drug crimes — even though statistics show that Caucasians abuse drugs at five times the rate of African-Americans according to the NAACP . And the NAACP notes that yet, African-Americans are sent to prison at 10 times the rate of whites for drug crimes.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he agreed with the need for the legislation, saying 15 years ago he too filed similar legislation.

“I so appreciate his suggestion and I’ll have more to say about that later and I hope I don’t get him in trouble with his Republican caucus for congratulating him on this,” Reid said. “This is something long overdue and as a country we should allow people who have served their time, have served their penance…they should at least be able to vote.”


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