Georgia Dems file legislation to reinstate voting rights to felons

According to a former police officer and Cataula Republican Randy Robinson, he says victims are not regarded when deciding on reinstating rights to felons

Georgia is on a mission to continuously make history.

Democrats have filed legislation that would allow those convicted of a felony to regain their voting rights. They say the current laws prohibiting felons to vote are rooted in racism.

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“They’re framing the question in a way that was handed to us, again, by racist design centuries ago,” said state Rep. Josh McLaurin the bill’s sponsor, per AJC. “The real question is, are these people citizens and, as citizens, do they have the right for their voice to be heard by elected officials? And the answer to that is yes.”

Georgia Constitution says people cannot register to vote if they are convicted of a “felony involving moral turpitude.” And before they can vote, all fines must be paid and probation or parole must be completed.

Kareemah Hanifa, 43, served 26 years on murder and kidnapping charges and she still is not allowed to vote. She was 15 when her crimes were committed.

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“Because I was sentenced to life in prison in 1993, I won’t vote for the rest of my life,” she said. Hanifa is now a community organizer for the Inner-City Muslim Action Network and works two jobs.

“I’m out here being a taxpaying, law-abiding citizen, but I still don’t have my right to decide who is going to be my representation.”

According to a former police officer and Cataula Republican Sen. Randy Robertson, victims are not regarded when deciding on reinstating rights to felons.

“What always gets lost in these discussions is the victims of the crime,” said Robertson. “All we’re asking the convicted to do is just to once you complete your sentence, then your voting rights are restored in Georgia.”

It is unlikely the bill will pass. Back in 2019, Republicans looked into allowing those with no violent felonies to vote but ultimately decided against it.

But McLaurin said reinstating voting rights is the right thing to do because it impacts too many Georgians.

“Over 200,000 of our fellow citizens in Georgia are denied (voting rights) because of a racist policy that was enacted nearly 150 years ago,” said McLaurin said at a press conference in honor of the late civil rights leader John Lewis. “After the Civil War, Georgia adopted a policy of disenfranchising people convicted of felonies as a strategy to exclude Black people from participating in democracy.”

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