Newly-elected Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) reversed his Democratic predecessor’s executive order restoring voting rights to some 140,000 former felons late Tuesday night, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Though Bevin had previously voiced support for former Gov. Steve Beshear’s campaign to enfranchise ex-convicts, he said in a prepared statement that this “is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people.”
The Associated Press reported that Kentucky is one of four states that doesn’t automatically restore offenders’ voting rights after their sentences are completed. The state constitution deprives former felons of the right to vote, hold public office, own a gun or serve on a jury.
Under Beshear’s order, which was issued shortly before Thanksgiving, all former offenders were allowed to vote except for those convicted of bribery, treason, violent crimes or sex crimes. Those who had other pending charges or arrests were also kept from voting.
Bevin issued his reversal along with four other executive orders on Tuesday, according to the Herald-Leader. Arguing that “the minimum wage stifles job creation,” he reversed Beshear’s order raising the state’s minimum wage for government workers and contractors from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. As a staunch supporter of Rowan County clerk Kim Davis, who was briefly jailed this summer for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Bevin also issued an order to remove clerks’ names from licenses to protect their religious liberty.