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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Voting rights restoration highlights Super Tuesday vote in MN

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024   

More than a dozen states hold presidential primaries on this Super Tuesday. Minnesota is among them, and the election is seen as a big opportunity for those with a past felony conviction who recently saw an expansion of their voting rights.

Last year, Minnesota approved a law change that allows people with a conviction to register to vote immediately after their release from prison, rather than waiting until their probation is completed.

JaNae' Bates, interim co-executive director of ISAIAH, part of a coalition that pushed for the change, said there's been broad outreach to educate those eligible but acknowledges it can be an uphill battle.

"Even though they are back in community with us -- working, going to school, etc. -- they've largely felt like they've been pushed out and have not often gotten to feel engaged," she explained.

Bates also encouraged friends and family of those formerly incarcerated to make them aware of their voting rights.

The Minnesota Secretary of State estimates the new policy affects nearly 55,000 people. And since Minnesota has same-day registration, advocates encourage those newly eligible to try and cast their ballot during today's primary. Polling locations around the state are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Organizers also are looking ahead to the November election to get more people registered under the new law. Bates said there's already a heightened mood of cynicism across the electorate, and that it's important to not let that weigh down the trust they're trying to build.

"We're already learning so much from our formerly incarcerated folks who have been engaged in this work about the mechanisms that help them to make better decisions later and what could have helped before they ended up in the system," she continued.

She said they want to learn even more from people they haven't reached yet, or who are reluctant to embrace the voting process. After its passage, the new policy survived a legal challenge brought by a conservative organization.


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