//New Georgia legislation may allow ex-felons to vote

New Georgia legislation may allow ex-felons to vote

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Democratic State Legislators Introduce Legislation to End Felony Disenfranchisement in Georgia

ATLANTA – State Representatives Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs), Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta), Gregg Kennard (D-Lawrenceville), Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta), Rebecca Mitchell (D-Snellville) and Erick Allen (D-Smyrna) [recently] filed legislation to end felony disenfranchisement in Georgia. These Democratic state legislators will hold a press conference to discuss the legislation TODAY, Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 1 p.m. at the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis mural in Atlanta (219 Auburn Ave NE). At the press conference, the bill sponsors will be joined by community leaders and activists and will give remarks about the significance of ending felony disenfranchisement.

“With about three percent of the voting population in Georgia disqualified because of a felony conviction, Georgia has the tenth highest rate of felony disenfranchisement per capita in the country,” said Rep. McLaurin. “The expansion of felony disenfranchisement after the Civil War was a racist move to deny Black people full participation in our democracy. Most of the Georgians it disenfranchises are out of prison, paying taxes and rebuilding their lives. This system of second-class citizenship has denied our neighbors’ voices for almost 150 years now. It is time to restore these citizens’ rights and their voices.”

The sponsors of the legislation seek to address criminal legal reform experts’ calls for Georgia to restrict or eliminate felony disenfranchisement. Based on expert testimony before the 2019 Senate Study Committee on Revising Voting Rights for Nonviolent Felony Offenders, these legislators believe that this restriction on voting is rooted in racism and punishes hundreds of thousands of taxpaying Georgians with jobs and families.

            “Many Georgians remain under correctional control and are unable to vote due to fines and fees associated with their sentences that they cannot afford to pay,” said Rep. Nguyen. “People who have served their time and are rebuilding their lives in our communities are prevented from voting because of excessive fees. They are taxpayers, our neighbors and our fellow Georgians. They have already paid the price of losing their liberty. They shouldn’t be stripped of their basic rights as citizens. If we believe in second chances and restorative justice, we need to end the practice of felony disenfranchisement.”

Representative Josh McLaurin represents the citizens of District 51, which includes portions of Fulton County. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and currently serves on the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Judiciary Non-Civil and Special Rules committees.

Representative Bee Nguyen represents the citizens of District 89, which includes portions of DeKalb County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2017 and currently serves on the Education, Governmental Affairs and Human Relations & Aging committees.

Representative Gregg Kennard represents the citizens of District 102, which includes portions of Gwinnett County. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and currently serves on the Industry & Labor, Motor Vehicles and Small Business Development committees.

Representative Kim Schofield represents the citizens of District 60, which includes portions of Clayton and Fulton counties. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2017 and currently serves on the Health & Human Services, Interstate Cooperation and Small Business Development committees.

Representative Rebecca Mitchell represents citizens of District 106, which includes portions of Gwinnett County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2020.

Representative Erick Allen represents the citizens of District 40, which includes portions of Cobb and Fulton counties. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and currently serves on the Banks & Banking, Code Revision and Human Relations & Aging committees.