Democracy Voices - Sean O'Donley, Hardin County

gIMG_0285Sean O'Donley lives in Hardin County and works next door in Louisville as a network maintenance technician for the cable company.  

He also works on racing car engines with his dad (at O'Donley Racing), likes to hunt, fish, and kayak when there's time.  

"Though mostly I work," he tells me, smiling.  "I stay pretty busy between my job and my family."

Sean grew up between McCraken and Caldwell counties in Western Kentucky and has lived in KY all his life.  "I like it here and can't say I've ever had a reason to leave," Sean says.  

He also follows politics. "Democrats think Democrats are smartest and Republicans think Republicans are the smartest," Sean says, laughing a little.  "But I think we've all got to work together."  

"Overall, I consider myself a Republican."

Although at 28 years old, Sean just recently got the right to vote for the first time in his life.

"I thought it was a constitutional right to vote.  It just doesn't seem right to take that away from former felons."  

"I got into drugs and did plenty of dumb things as a kid like stealing and busting up mailboxes.  And I spent some time in prison for it.  I let a lot of people down earlier in my life.  I'm very mindful of that and since then I've worked hard and I think it's been a long time since I've let anyone down."

Last year, Sean spent some time researching on the internet trying to find a way to get his right to vote back.  There, he found a the story about Jason Smith, a KFTC member and former felon, and realized that they both lived in Elizabethtown and had some friends in common.

"So I found him on Facebook and sent a message and set up a meeting."

"Jason helped me fill out the paperwork and request my right to vote back in October."

Earlier this year, Sean also came out to Frankfort with KFTC to talk to legislators encouraging them to pass HB 70 to restore voting rights to most former felons after they've served their time like Sean has.  
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"It was an empowering experience.  I never knew that citizens could just go to Frankfort and talk to their legislators like that.  And I feel like we made some real progress with a couple of them."

Just a couple weeks ago - perhaps 6 months after he applied, Sean got his right to vote back.

"And I filled out my voter registration card the next day," says Sean.  

But a quarter of a million Kentuckians still don't have the right to vote and Sean wants to make it so that a lot more of them get that right.  

"Everyone lives in the country so everyone should have a say."

 

In an attempt to share more of the stories from former felons across the Commonwealth, we’re presenting a series of short interviews every few weeks on our blog and in our newsletter balancing the scales.   

If you're a former felon interested in being interviewed about the right to vote, or if you know someone who might be, please contact your local KFTC organizer or Dave Newton Dave@kftc.org 859-420-8919.

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Comments

You have grown up to be an amazing young man!!! Very proud to know you!!! Love you!!

How very inspiring! Thanks you. 

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