Mar 3, 2023 - Politics

Minnesota extends voting rights for 55,000 felony offenders

Illustration of a campaign vote button with an opened padlock shackle on the top.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Minnesotans who are on probation for felony convictions will be allowed to cast a ballot under a new law signed by Gov. Tim Walz on Friday.

The big picture: The law, which was approved by the DFL-controlled Legislature in recent weeks, will extend voting rights to an estimated 55,000 Minnesotans who had previously been barred from participating in elections.

  • It's seen as the biggest expansion of voter eligibility in the state in a half century, per MPR News.

What they're saying: Supporters say allowing people to participate in elections once their time behind bars is done gives them more say in their communities and may help reduce recidivism.

The other side: Critics have argued that people who commit crimes should face consequences through the duration of their sentence, especially for more serious offenses.

Between the lines: The issue has been the subject of intense debate at the Capitol and in the courts for years.

  • The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld a law barring voting during probation in a highly anticipated ruling issued in February, saying it was up to the Legislature to change the statute.

What's next: Secretary of State Steve Simon's office plans to notify people impacted by the change of their right to vote, The Star Tribune reports. Public awareness campaigns are expected to follow.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Twin Cities stories

No stories could be found

Twin Citiespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Twin Cities.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more