Senate bill gives voting rights to Nevada ex-felons

Most felons who've completed their parole would automatically be given back their rights to vote and run for public office in Nevada, under legislation pending before the full Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee amended and approved AB337 to automatically restore the civil rights of most felons including the ability after two years to serve on a civil jury. Ex-felons currently have to petition courts -- a process bill proponents say is burdensome and can take about a year.

The Republican-controlled panel on Thursday modified the bill to ensure repeat offenders and people convicted of more serious crimes such as murder would still have to petition for their rights. The ability to serve on a criminal jury is automatically restored six years after a felon is honorably discharged from parole or probation.

Bill sponsor Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said dozens of other states allow automatic restoration.

Ben Graham, speaking for himself and not as a lobbyist for the Nevada District Attorney's Association, also urged approval of the legislation.

"The penalty is done," Graham said. "If they can stay out of trouble for six years, they're probably going to stay out of trouble."

Noting recent FBI raids in connection with Clark County commissioners, the panel removed language that would have barred public officials from holding future public office only if they were convicted of a felony "relating to the qualifications, functions or duties of the public office."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said he would maintain the current law which notes that any felony or malfeasance in office requires the officials to give up their post and be prohibited from ever holding public office in Nevada.

The bill also notes that ex-felons aren't eligible to serve as a sheriff, constable or more senior police officer. It prohibits police from requiring ex-felons to carry a registration card.


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