Wilmington unlocks almost 8,000 voters after released felons given the right to vote
NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Tens of thousands of North Carolinians will be able to head to the now after judges voted to reinstate convicted felons’ voting rights after they serve their time.
Before now, felons would have to sometimes wait years after finishing parole or probation to vote. It gives felon and Second Chance Alliance’s Daquan Peters renewed hope.
“Now we get to vote for the people that say we are for second chances,” Peters said.
Leading Into New Communities, or LINC, helps men and women exiting the prison system integrate back into society. It has its challenges, and without the ability to vote in officials to help, it can lead some to reenter the prison system.
“You do feel like a second class citizen,” said Krystal Miller, a former inmate. “Pushed to the side. It makes you feel hopeless.”
Many North Carolinians have sought to throw out the controversial law keeping felons still on parole or probation from the ballot box.
“They pay taxes. They work everyday,” LINC founder Frankie Roberts explained.
“I still should be able to participate in a democracy,” Peters continued. “I still should be able to participate in an election of an official who is going to make decisions about my life.”
But after a recent ruling unlocked the vote for felons who have served their time, North Carolina has roughly 56,000 more voters (almost 8,000 of which live in New Hanover County).
According to Peters, it’s a breakthrough that could change the states’ election and prison systems forever.
“…Who know all of the wrong first hand experience of what this system does. I get to vote now. I get to decide who can and can’t be in there.”
Roberts says this affects all 30 of the former prisoners LINC is now rehabilitating. Though he knows some will have concerns, he sees this new ruling as a second chance for felons to become productive members of society.
“Everything is about forgiveness,” Roberts said. “Everything is about forgiveness. Giving people second chances and raising people up.”
The ruling gives felons enough time to register and vote in November’s municipal election.