Kentucky governor restores voting rights to some felons

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced an executive order Tuesday that will automatically restore the right to vote and hold public office to certain felons who have completely served their criminal sentences.

Beshear, a Democrat, said the order does not include those convicted of violent crimes, sex crimes, bribery or treason.

Upon release, felons that meet the criteria will be granted a certificate showing their rights have been restored. Those who have already left jail and completed their sentence will have to submit a form. Even those felons who do not meet the criteria can still attempt to apply for their rights to be restored through the governor's office.

"The right to vote is one of the most intrinsically American privileges, and thousands of Kentuckians are living, working and paying taxes in the state but are denied this basic right," the outgoing governor said in a press conference Tuesday. "Once an individual has served his or her time and paid all restitution, society expects them to reintegrate into their communities and become law-abiding and productive citizens. A key part of that transition is the right to vote."

Kentucky, along with Florida and Iowa, is one of three states where ex-felons cannot vote unless the governor personally restores their rights.