Editor's note: There are dozens of newspapers across the state of Kentucky. Each Tuesday and occasionally other times, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing their communities and this state.
Like thousands of others, Frankfort's Debra Graner braved Dec. 10's brisk cold to witness the inauguration of Gov. Andy Beshear. And though she campaigned for him -- going door-to-door and making endless phone calls -- she wasn't able to vote for him or anyone else because of a past felony.
Beshear recently signed an executive order making good on a campaign pledge to restore the rights of more than 140,000 nonviolent felony offenders who have completed their sentences and those who have served their time but still owe fines or fees.
The order does not include treason, election bribery and violent offenses such as rape, sexual abuse, homicide, fetal homicide or first- and second-degree assault.
With about 10% of Kentuckians and 25% of the state's African American population not allowed to vote, the commonwealth has one of the highest voter disenfranchisement rates in the country.
Beshear would like to make the executive order permanent by adding the provisions to the state Constitution. However, in order to do so, the measure would need the approval of legislators and voters.
The new governor said his faith teaches forgiveness, redemption and second chances.
"I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect and extend the right to vote and to say to so may who have paid their debt that we welcome them as full members of society again," he said.
We believe that second chances aren't given to make things right but to prove that we could be better even after we fall. Every single person makes mistakes, but not every misstep should carry a life sentence. After all, a second chance is the hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday -- the same principle our country was founded on.
We applaud Beshear for fulfilling his promise to reinstate the voting rights of thousands of deserving Kentuckians. It was the right thing to do.
-- State-Journal, Frankfort