Sen. Schaaf Files Restoration of Voting Rights Act

Schaaf Press Release BannerFor Immediate Release:                                                         Contact: Senator Rob Schaaf, (573) 751-2183
Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jefferson City, MO — Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) today introduced a new bill: the Missouri Restoration of Voting Rights Act SB 924.

Under current law, citizens who have been convicted of felonies and are on probation or parole may not vote in Missouri. Senate Bill 924 would allow all such citizens to vote except those convicted on counts of voter fraud.

“Probation and parole,” Senator Schaaf explained, “are meant to prevent citizens convicted of crimes from doing bad things – not good things, like voting. The Missouri Restoration of Voting Rights Act would give back the vote to thousands of citizens who are currently denied a say in how they and their families are governed.”

Of the more than 60,000 Missourians currently on probation or parole, about 26.1 percent are African-American, even though African-Americans only account for about 11.8 percent of Missouri’s population.[1], [2] Because of this disparity, the restriction on such citizens’ voting rights has been likened to the Jim Crow laws that once systematically disenfranchised many African-Americans. On this point, Senator Schaaf issued the following statement: “Not only does the current law undermine our democratic system, but it disproportionately affects African-Americans, a group that has already been the object of far too much legal discrimination.”

If SB 924 becomes law, Missouri will join 15 states that already extend suffrage to citizens serving terms of probation or parole.[3] Such policy is supported by prominent advocacy groups with authority on the matter, including the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the American Probation and Parole Association.[4] It is also supported by voters, with the most recent available poll finding that a strong majority of Americans think that citizens serving sentences of probation or parole should be allowed to vote.[5]