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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed into law a measure that will restore the voting rights of convicted felons still serving probation and parole, but out of prison for five years.

The change takes effect March 1.

Current law required completion of probation or parole, leaving some people unable to ever get voting rights restored.

The bill by Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat, squeaked to final passage after repeated defeat for the idea in prior years. But convicted felons seeking passage of the legislation spent hours talking to lawmakers and walking the halls of the Louisiana Capitol, building support.

Smith says about 3,500 people could regain the right to vote under the legislation.

Bill supporters packed the room for Edwards’ signing ceremony.


House Bill 265: