WXXI AM News

Connections: Voting Rights For People With Felony Records

Oct 6, 2016

As the election draws near, we discuss voting rights and disenfranchised voters, particularly people with felony records.  

Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow someone with a felony conviction to vote from prison. Most states allow people with felony convictions to vote after they've served their sentences and parole. Some states ban voting until ex-offenders have finished probation. But since 1902, felons in Virginia have been permanently banned from voting. In April of this year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced an executive order that would restore voting rights for more than 200,000 felons in his state, in time for the November election. McAuliffe said his mission was to strike down the last vestiges of racial exclusion, and he said this order would stand as his proudest achievement in office. But Virginia's state Supreme Court announced in July that McAuliffe had overstepped his authority, and they struck down the order. McAuliffe responded that he would sign individual orders for every single one of the men and women with felony convictions, restoring their voting rights in time for Election Day.

This hour, we have a conversation about fairness, and justice. We talk about voting. We also talk about what it means to help ex-offenders build healthy lives after their incarceration is over. Our guests:

  • Dwayne Ponder, who served 19 and a half years in prison and is now on parole
  • Danielle Ponder, a public defender and Dwayne's sister