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Connecticut Advocates Pushing To Restore Voting Rights For People On Parole

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John Froschauer
/
AP

Connecticut restored voting rights for people on probation almost two decades ago. Now, advocates want state lawmakers to give that right to people on parole, too. But they say many people touched by the justice system still do not know they have a right to vote.

James Jeter directs Unlock The Vote. He was incarcerated for over 19 years before helping restore voting rights for the reentry community. He said communities he works with often don’t make a habit of voting.

“The larger issue is, is that, when you’re poor, it doesn’t matter who is in power. You’re pretty much remaining poor. That has been the reality and the narrative of so many people. Their oppression has been bipartisan. No matter who’s in power, it’s been consistent,” Jeter said.

Jeter said when he lets people know they can register to vote, he also has to convince them that voting is worth it. He said that is an issue he hopes to address, if Connecticut is able to restore voting rights to all people touched by the justice system.

“The lack of belief in voting anchors the community, and so when someone comes home out of the system, life hits you and you don’t necessarily realize that you have rights,” Jeter said.

Vermont and Maine are the only states that do not take away the right to vote from a person serving time for a felony.