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A map of places where felon who have been convicted can vote, depending on the state’s laws. Recent debate has been opened up once again on restoring the eligibility of voters who’ve been previously convicted of crimes. (Map courtesy of wuwf88.1)

The recent elections have once again touched on the subject of whether convicted felons should have their voting rights restored after they’ve served their time. Many people support giving offenders a second chance, particularly when issues affecting them after they’ve been released from prison will continue to do so after they’ve been released. However, recent elections have caused confusion on the topic. Depending on where one calls home, the level of voting restoration also differs, as some are able to vote as soon as they’re released while other states throw a bunch of hurdles that prevent those with prior convictions from participating their democratic right.

In the state of Florida for example, where the issue has been the focal point of recent debates, as Amendment Four, which looked to restore the voting rights of those previously convicted, has met with some confusion and obstacles by Florida voters.

While former Florida felons do get their vote restored, it is often after they have paid fines associated with their incarceration. In the event a felon has failed to completely pay their fine, they are sometimes charged with voter fraud, which has happened to several potential voters. The Real News editor-in-chief Maximillian Alvarez, who hosts a politically independent-oriented podcast, spoke to Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani about the confusion.

Mansa Musa, the podcast co-host, also contributed to the discussion, likening the idea of being incarcerated for voting because you were previously incarcerated, to the Jim Crow era, arguing that “in 2022, [we] find ourselves in this place of Georgia, Alabama, 1960 Ku Klux Klan, stalking the polls to have us in this state of mind where now we legislate this terror and lock people up, it’s beyond […] imagination”.

If being incarcerated is beyond one’s imagination, then imagine what it is like to be unable to vote, despite being expected to pay taxes, be able to drive vehicles on publicly supported roads and still not be able to have a say on issues that affect you and your peers. That is just as imaginative, and one’s only fault is just not being old enough.

Keep supporting lowering the voting age and common sense voting reforms in order to correct these injustices. Not only do felons deserve chances, but youth voters deserve to have their first chance to vote too.

Jester Jersey


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