PHOENIX — A new Arizona law makes it easier for felons who have served their time to regain the right to vote and other civil rights.
The ABC15 Investigators aired multiple reports last year about felons being illegally registered to vote. That reporting also exposed how Arizona had one of the most complicated processes in the country for felons who wanted to restore their rights.
With the support of legislators, the Arizona Attorney General's Office, and defense attorneys, House Bill 2119 has become law.
“If they pay their debt to society, they should be integrated back in society,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, “and that includes having the right to vote so we want to get it as simple and easy as possible.”
Starting later this year, Arizona courts must provide all felons with a notice on how to restore their rights.
The first step for all will be completing their probation or prison time and paying restitution.
Afterward, people with one felony only on their records are automatically restored and can immediately register to vote.
People with multiple felonies will no longer have a mandatory waiting period, but they must file a court application and wait for the judge's approval before registering to vote.
“It was really kind of willy-nilly before, And I think this cleans some of it up,” said Steve Scharboneau from Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He testified at a committee hearing in favor of the changes.
The new law also streamlines the process for felons who want to restore their gun rights.