New law restoring voting rights for ex-felons brings opportunity to a Duluth woman

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 9:52 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- For the first time in Minnesota history, felons who have completed their sentence have the right to vote and run for office, including one Duluth woman.

In 2013, Miranda Pacheco lost everything after being charged with a drug felony.

“I came to Duluth to attend a treatment center,” said Pacheco. “I started healing, I got my kids back, got my first rental, and working at the CHUM.”

What Pacheco didn’t know was that wasn’t the only thing she was getting back. Earlier this year, she received a letter telling her that she was now able to vote in Minnesota as early as the August primary.

“There is so much strength in that, you know, being like this is where I was but this is where I am at now,” said Pacheco.

Much like other states around the country, Minnesota is expanding its access to the polls with a new state law allowing felons who have completed their sentences to take part in the democratic process.

“Specifically, it’s the first time and the first election since more than 55,000 Minnesotan’s got their right to vote back,” said Secretary of State Steve Simon. “2023 was a once in a generation opportunity real, effective, historic reforms.”

With the new law in place ahead of the August primary, Pacheco won’t just be voting, she’ll be voting for herself.

Pacheco is running for one of the two Duluth at-large city council seats alongside:

- Ashlie Castaldo

- Jenna Yeakle

- Shawn A. Savela

- Lynn Marie Nephew

- Asher Estrin-Haire

- Therese Wisocki

- and current city councilor Arik Forsman.

“I never would have thought I would be running for city councilor,” said Pacheco. “I can make a difference.”

A new opportunity she says will help her give back to the city that saved her life. Hoping that no matter the outcome, she gives those who have left prison behind, the motivation for a new start.

“I hope to bring hope to people like me,” said Pacheco.

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