On Tuesday Kentucky’s new Republican Gov. Matt Bevin reversed a move by his Democratic predecessor to restore voting rights to at least 140,000 people with felony convictions. The state is one of just three, along with Florida and Iowa, that permanently disenfranchises all people with felony convictions. Kentuckians with felony convictions who want their right to vote, serve on a jury, hold elected office and obtain a professional or vocational license have to individually petition the governor to have those rights restored.
“We simply can’t have criminals, rehabilitated or otherwise, affecting the overall decision of whether a person is going to be the next President of the United States,” Bevin commented on his decision. “I don’t care what anybody says, we cannot allow men and women who have committed crimes to have a say in the decisions that are to shape the present and future of this country, of our children.”
Asked to elaborate on what caused him to make the reversal of his predecessor’s decision one of his first moves as new governor, he said: “You know, a lot of people think disenfranchising is all about targeting racial minorities. That’s not the case. I mean, it seems like it is, but the fact to the matter is that 9 out of 10 criminals in this country are black. It’s as simple as that. What, all of a sudden, my predecessor got the urge to right a wrong? To allow criminals to have the privileges reserved for law-abiding citizens? I don’t think so.”
“What do you think would happen if we were to let the previous decision stand? If we were to allow so-called ‘reformed’ black criminals to vote?” Bevin asked. “They’d probably re-write the history books to say that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were black and then they’d change our national anthem to a hip-hop song with a hefty addition of slang words like ‘hoe,’ ‘booty,’ and ‘dayum.’ And let me tell you, I would rather marry a convicted black woman than let her vote.”
“It’s like they say, ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game.’ I didn’t make the rules, I just get to decide how they’re enforced. And as far as I’m concerned, no Kentucky black felon will ever be the same as an honest, white citizen,” he concluded.