On voting day, November 7, 2023, Moncies Franco, Sr., from Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute’s (HHRI) Health, Homelessness, and Criminal Justice (HHCJ) Lab, was featured in a story on MPR News. The story highlighted his first vote since the passage of Minnesota’s Restore the Vote law in June 2023. Prior to this law, Franco and others who had been convicted of a felony were prohibited from voting until the completion of their full sentence, including supervised release or probation. The new legislation, however, allows over 55,000 Minnesotans with a convicted felony and on supervised release or probation to vote as they complete their sentence.
Franco has been a vocal advocate of the Restore the Vote law and testified to support its passage. His belief in the importance of voting rights is driven by the potential for change and progress that comes with civic engagement. Franco said he felt nervous while casting his ballot and admitted to even pinching himself a little to ensure that he was not dreaming. However, he soon realized that he had a voice and that his vote mattered. For Franco, voting represents a break in the cycle of incarceration that has plagued his family for generations.
Despite previous convictions, the Restore the Vote law has allowed thousands of individuals, including Franco, to exercise their right to vote. Franco’s experience highlights the importance of civic engagement and the positive impact that voting can have on individuals and their communities.
Read and listen to the story on the MPR News website: ‘My voice matters’: Felons vote at polls for first time after voting rights restored