The Georgia State Senate is currently considering a measure that would restore voting rights to a number of people with felonies in their pasts. The measure, if implemented, would only apply to non-violent offenders. In the 2016 election, nearly 250,000 Georgians were denied the right to vote.
The issue is being studied by the Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders. At the moment, the Committee is listening to testimony from criminal justice reform advocates such as the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Georgia Justice Project. The two major issues for the committee to determine are:
- Which offenses should be disqualifying. Current Georgia law states that “crimes of moral turpitude” disqualify a person from voting, but the law doesn’t define a crime of moral turpitude. Georgia has previously considered all felonies to fall into this category, even if they are non-violent.
- Whether a person should be able to get their voting rights back even before they have paid off financial obligations to the court. In Georgia, court fees are extremely high and they sometimes take a long time to pay off, even if a person is making regular payments. The argument that criminal justice advocates are making is that being poor should not be a barrier to voting.
What do you think? Should people with a felony in their pasts be allowed to vote, and when? Let me know on social media!