Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Wednesday signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that will restore the voting rights of convicted felons, a measure he says will enfranchise 77,000 people.
The measure, known as AB431, will streamline what was a complicated process to enfranchise formerly incarcerated Americans, and the governor hailed the move as an effort to “restore fairness and justice to thousands of Nevadans.”
“I’m so excited about the positive impact these bills will have on our communities, especially communities of color,” Sisolak wrote on Twitter.
I just signed two criminal justice reform bills that will restore fairness and justice to thousands of Nevadans. I'm so excited about the positive impact these bills will have on our communities, especially communities of color. 1/3
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) May 29, 2019
The bill will go into effect July 1 and will automatically restore a person’s voting rights once they are released from prison and complete their parole. The measure received wide, bipartisan support and by some estimates will enfranchise more than 3% of Nevada’s voting-age population.
Nevada Democrats have been working to increase voter turnout after winning both the governorship and the state legislature during the 2018 elections. ThinkProgress notes that the legislature has also introduced a bill that would automatically register people to vote when they get their drivers’ licenses as well as allowing for same-day voter registration.
“I firmly believe that we should be doing everything we can to expand access to the ballot box, not restrict it,” Sisolak said just before signing the measure, according to the Nevada Current. “This also includes people who have paid their debts to society after committing a crime. Not only is restoring their right to vote the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.”
Thirty-eight other states and the District of Columbia currently have policies restoring the right to vote for convicted felons.