This week's Sounding Board, left to right: ex-Rep. Nick Zerwas, ex-Met Council Chair Peter Bell, Sen. Melisa Lopez Franzen, ex-Rep. John Lesch, Sen. Ron Latz
Our weekly current events quiz featuring smart people who know stuff
Query 1: A state Supreme Court appeal is pending on a recent MN Court of Appeals ruling, affirming a law that keeps felons from voting until they serve out their full probation terms. As one example, that means Jennifer Schroeder, who served less than a year on a 2013 Minnesota drug conviction, can’t vote until her 40-year probation ends. Where are you at on this issue?
Nick Zerwas, lobbyist, former GOP state representative: I was one of the few Republicans who co-authored the felon-voting bill. When I ran in my first city council race, there was a guy who I went to high school with and I talked to him for a half hour at his kitchen table. At the end of the conversation I said, “I'm glad I can count on your vote.” And he said, “I went to prison right out of high school for meth—I'm a convicted felon. I can’t vote for you.” For me, that was a turning point.
In Minnesota, what we need to do is either make continued progress to significantly curtail lengths of the probationary period, or allow people after they get out of prison to resume voting. We can't disenfranchise people for three or four decades while we expect them to live and contribute in society. That doesn't create a just society.
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