Bill would give incarcerated right to vote

Published 9:52 pm Monday, May 9, 2016

Dear editor,

Currently 48 states restrict the rights of felons to vote. Some states forbid incarcerated felons from voting, others continue to ban parolees from voting and others disenfranchise felons for life. The Democracy Restoration Act of 2015, H.R. 1459, was introduced by Michigan Representative John Conyers in March of 2015. His timing was very close to the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March in Selma.

The bill voices the importance of providing voting rights to former individuals who were incarcerated in federal penal institutions. The bill will help to reinstate these voting privileges lost.

Selma has a history of fighting for voting rights, which began in the 1960s. This was an era that caught the attention of most people worldwide. The equal rights fight which called for everyone to vote was important because it showed equality and respect for everyone. Even if someone chose not to vote, the opportunity was still available for them to do so after the movement.

There are over 30,000 inmates housed in state of Alabama correctional facilities, not including local county jails and holding cells. The number can seem low when compared to other states. There are not many correctional facilities in the state of Alabama either. When an individual is incarcerated they lose time away from their family, friends, society and even their right to vote. Initially voting may not seem important until the bigger picture of voicing their concerns arise. Voting allows an individual to express their opinions and give choices.

Currently, Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell is on board and supports the bill but it is still important for Alabamians to know what could possibly take effect. The bill only has a few co-sponsors. Many members of the U.S. Congress view the right to vote as a state issue and not a federal issue.

The right to vote is a Constitutional right and every citizen should have the right to vote. Support this Constitutional right for all citizens by calling Congresswoman Sewell’s Selma office at 334-877-4414 or by visiting sewell.house.gov to send an email.

 

Britanny Moore

Selma native and graduate student at the University of Southern California