New law in Georgia allows people in jail, awaiting trial right to vote

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AUGUSTA,Ga. (WJBF)- It used to be, when you went to jail, you lost your right to vote. But that rule is changing for some people who are incarcerated in Georgia. Those behind bars in jails or detention centers, who are awaiting trial, will be allowed to receive ballots from the board of elections where they are registered to vote.

Garian Henrry was incarcerated for a felony in 1998. After her, she now uses her story to educate others about getting their right to vote restored.

“He gave me a letter and he told me open it and I opened it and it told me that my voting rights were restored and I cried. I was like wow,” explains Henry.

She proceeds to explain how former inmates aren’t aware of their rights due to the lack of education.

“Once you realize that your rights were taken, you have to figure out how can you get this back because there is a lot of people that I have talked to and they will say; ‘Oh I can’t vote, I’m a convicted felon.” The first thing I say is ‘what?….I can vote.’ They say no you’ve never been convicted of a felony… I tell them i have two.”

This year there are two new changes to Georgia law that allows some people who are in jail or awaiting trial the right to vote from inside the jail.

Board of Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey explains the reason for the new changes.

“They are still eligible to vote and so the law was changed to permit us to mail their ballot to them to the jail or the detention center. There are also provisions in place to allow for the transport of that voted ballot from the jail or detention center by a family member or a jail employee.”

Henry believes voting is a right that should not be taken away from someone regardless of what they have done.

“That right [to vote] felt like a medal of honor to me. To be able to actually have a voice in who is able to be in the office and make laws and make decisions.”

For more information on voting click here

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