A voter information press conference hosted by Charlotte School of Law, the NAACP and Democracy North Carolina addressed citizens’ right to vote. Charlotte NAACP President Kojo Nantambu and Marshville Mayor Franklin Deese spoke on voter disenfranchisement. Get Your Vote Back is Democracy NC’s theme for ex-felons and persons with misdemeanors. There’s a lot of confusion about the restoration of voter rights. More awareness of North Carolina law is needed to overcome word on the street that once you’re locked up you’re locked out of voting, Democracy NC.
In North Carolina, ex-felons, who are not on probation or parole can register and vote without any special letter. If registered before sentence was served, you must re-register because the prior registration was revoked. Registration forms are available from libraries, online and the Board of Elections located at 741 Kenilworth in Charlotte where freed ex-felons and anybody can register and vote, at the same time, during the early voting process, 19 to three days before the November 6th election. Take one form of identification with name, current address, such as driver’s license, utility bill, car registration, food stamp letter or medical card. Those on the sex offenders list, they can vote too, should vote by absentee ballot to avoid violating rules concerning visiting schools to vote. Maybe registration forms SHOULD be included with prison or jail release papers through the middle of October. You can register and vote even if you have an outstanding warrant or owe fines, the polling location won’t have that information, according to Democracy NC.
Deese, a former felon, said he wants his life to be a testament and example for all people. “If this guy can go from being an inmate to now being the mayor surely I can go from wherever I am to wherever I need to be.”
North Carolina citizens with misdemeanor convictions can vote, no restrictions, even if in jail via absentee ballot. This holds true in 40 states. There are 2,466 persons jailed in Mecklenburg County jail, of those, 1,683 are Black. Some have been sentenced, awaiting trial or can’t get bonded out. Misdemeanor charges include drug abuse, paraphernalia, petty theft, solicitation, DUI, communicating threats or disorderly conduct and constitute a sentence of less than one year or probation. If you have a son, mother, father, brother, sister, friend and/or cousin in Mecklenburg County Jail, send them a registration form with those pictures. Statistics show one in seven African Americans know somebody in correctional institutions. Of the 40,000 prisoners in NC, 22,283 are Black. The misdemeanor confined can mail the form, using the jail address and request an absentee ballot from the Board of Elections. If you know or suspect you’re going to spend some time in the county, register before you go to court, you never know what will happen in those courtrooms. REGISTER ANYWAY! DO IT NOW and tell everybody.
If you know anybody in other states’ penal systems, felons soon to get out, misdemeanors in jail, make them aware of their state’s voting laws. States with the same laws as NC include Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. Voter restoration is immediately returned after term completed and if on probation or parole in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Felons’ voter rights are never restored in states like Alabama, Florida, Arizona, Mississippi or Nevada. We need to make up for those disenfranchised voters by registering and voting. In midyear 2010, there were 2,226,800 federal and state prisoners in the US, 841,000 Black men. Over five million persons have been disenfranchised due to voting laws in various states with NC's 73,113.
The newly released first request upon hitting freedom is usually underwear and socks. I urge those who pick them up to also have a registration form or take them somewhere to get a form. If anyone needs assistance contact Democracy NC at (919) 286-6000 or www.democracy-nc.org or me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I volunteer to help with postage, envelopes and getting the registration forms to you. Prison ministry organizations, re-entry program staff and lawyers should ensure their clients are registered.
On another note, the 2012 Legislative session ended, in early July, without a repeal of Governor Perdue’s veto of the bill that would require voters to present photo IDs to cast a ballot. North Carolinians will not be required to show the IDs.