Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday restoring the right to vote to convicted felons who have completed their sentences.
The action restores voting rights to more than 140,000 people convicted of crimes excluding treason, bribery in an election and violent offenses such as rape, sexual abuse, homicide, first and second-degree assault, and assault under extreme emotional disturbance.
The order also doesn't apply to federal convictions, convictions from other jurisdictions or those who have pending criminal charges or arrests.
"My faith teaches me to treat others with dignity and respect. My faith also teaches forgiveness and that is why I am restoring voting rights to over 140,000 Kentuckians who have done wrong in the past, but are doing right now," Beshear said. "I want to lift up all of our families and I believe we have a moral responsibility to expand the right to vote."
Kentucky was one of the last remaining states to apply lifetime voting bans for felons unless they applied for restoration from the governor and has the third-highest disenfranchisement rate in the country as one in 10 Kentuckians and one in four African Americans in the state are not permitted to vote.
Beshear also supports a constitutional amendment to preserve the executive order, which re-established an order that was issued by his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, in 2015 and was undone by Republican Gov. Matt Blevin.