felon voting

Gov. John Bel Edwards signs House Bill 265 to restore voting rights to some felons still on probation or parole during a packed signing ceremony at the Capitol on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

A recent appeals court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of a 1976 Louisiana law barring felons on probation or parole from voting was appealed Friday to the state Supreme Court.

The filing came eight days after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a measure that allows people who have been out of prison for five years, but remain on probation or parole, to register to vote.

Some 2,000 felons in Louisiana will have their voting rights restored in March as a result of the governor's signing House Bill 265 into law, which passed during this year's regular legislative session.

Currently, people convicted of felonies can only regain the right to vote once they complete probation or parole, which has meant that some felons would never have a chance to vote again in their lives.

The 1974 Louisiana Constitution prohibits people "under an order of imprisonment" on a felony conviction from voting. A 1976 state law expanded that to people convicted of felonies and still on probation or parole.

State District Judge Tim Kelley, of Baton Rouge, affirmed the law last year, and the Baton Rouge-based 1st Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed his ruling in April.

A group called Voice of the Experienced, or VOTE, filed its appeal Friday at the state Supreme Court in New Orleans, claiming the 1976 law unconstitutionally disenfranchises persons on probation or parole.

"The Louisiana Supreme Court is best positioned to correct this, and proclaim once and for all that the Louisiana Constitution guarantees the right to vote, and that voting can only be suspended during, not after, incarceration," VOTE deputy director Bruce Reilly said.

VOTE says the 1976 law prevents more than 70,000 felons on probation and parole in the state from voting.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.