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Gov. Andy Beshear on Nov. 5, just before he was confirmed Kentucky's new governor. Photo: John Sommers II/Getty Images

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an order on Thursday restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

By taking this step, by restoring these voting rights, we declare that everyone counts in Kentucky. We all matter."
— Gov. Andy Beshear

Why it matters: Iowa is now the only state in the country with a lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony. Convicted felons in Kentucky previously had to seek clemency from the governor on an individual basis.

  • The League of Women Voters of Kentucky issued a report in January that some 312,000 people feel disenfranchised because of felony convictions. 

Between the lines: Beshear appears to be following in his father's footsteps, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who signed an executive order just before leaving office in 2015 to restore voting rights to more than 100,00 convicted felons.

  • That order would've applied to those who'd "completed their sentences and paid all of their court-ordered restitution," but his successor, former Gov. Matt Bevin (R), suspended the order days after taking office, per the Lexington Herald-Leader.

What he's saying: Kentucky's new governor explained his decision during his inaugural address, saying his faith "teaches me to treat others with dignity and respect."

  • "My faith also teaches me forgiveness," he said. "That's why on Thursday I will sign an executive order restoring voting rights to over 100,000 men and women who have done wrong in the past but are doing right now. They deserve to participate in our great democracy."

The big picture: Beshear, who previously served as Kentucky's attorney general, was sworn in Tuesday after narrowly defeating Bevin in the state's gubernatorial election last month.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

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Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.