VANCEBORO, N.C. — Thousands of people who were once behind bars are now registering to vote in North Carolina. Civil rights groups sued legislative leaders in 2019, saying it was unconstitutional to deny people the right to vote after they completed their prison sentence. Last week, judges agreed with them.
What You Need To Know
People convicted of a felony ,]but are out of prison, are now able to vote
Civil rights programs are now helping people to register
Convicted felons still behind bars are still not eligible to vote
Wash Away Unemployment was one of the civil rights groups on the case. They help people reenter society after coming out of prison. As of last week, one of their goals is to get people convicted of a felony to register to vote.
Kayla Green is working with Wash Away to help people at the probation office register to vote. Last Thursday, she helped Carl Hagan log onto the website and input his information, but Green is also new to this herself.
“I know firsthand how having a status of being an ex-offender can make you feel like you’re disqualified from so many signs or going to be judged off it” Green said.
She successfully completed her probation years ago, but still didn’t know she was qualified to register until recently.
“I was like ‘This is everyone? Everyone on probation?’ And he said ‘Yes.’ It’s hard to believe but it’s true” Green said.
She completed the Wash Away program herself in 2016 and is now pursuing her college degree. She says she’s volunteering with her old organization to let others know their rights.
“I know we’re gonna run into people that are impacted by the probation office, and here we are. Here’s someone who hasn’t voted in 21 years” Green said.
Under law, those who are convicted of a felony and are still in prison are still not eligible to vote.