Rally for voting rights in Frankfort today

Despite snowy weather, about 260 people raised their voices for voting rights at a rally and lobby day Wednesday at the state capitol in Frankfort.

Several former felons took the podium to share their stories and urge passage of House Bill 70, which would restore voting rights to most former felons once they’ve served their debt to society. Kentucky is one of the most restrictive states, requiring former felons to obtain an individual pardon from the governor in order to regain their right to vote.

Voting Rights Rally 893.jpgAileen Bryant of Louisville recalled that at one time she was told she’d never amount to anything. “Today I am somebody,” she said. She urged those gathered to talk to their legislators about House Bill 70. “We need to let them know we deserve that right. Don’t give up.”

Michael Hiser of Bullitt County said he has obtained his bachelor’s degree and is working on a master’s degree since serving his time. He has regained custody of his children and paid $15,000 in back taxes. But he still can’t vote.

Ed West, another former felon, said it feels good to be a citizen again, even paying taxes. “It feels good to be responsible and be able to pay a debt.” But gaining voting rights for former felons will take a powerful movement. “We need to continue to voice such powerful voices.”

Voting Rights Rally 832.jpgKFTC member Tayna Fogle, who emceed the rally, said she wants to set an example for her two children and seven grandchildren. “I want them to be able to believe in this democracy.”

For each of the past several years, including this year, the bill has passed the Kentucky House by a comfortable margin before stalling in the Senate. Today citizen lobbyists focused on talking with senators and urging them to support the bill.

They visited with dozens of lawmakers and left hundreds of postcards for Senate President Robert Stivers.

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Comments

I support HB70. I have two friends who committed a felony over 40 years ago.One was a minor theft and the other was gambeling. Neither have been in any trouble since and are sucessful business men yet they still can't vote. One applied for a pardon in 2010 and we are yet to hear anything. The governor still has not set up a Pardon Board.

We the people who stood up for democracy and human rights yesterday in our beautiful State Capitol Bldg. We will keep marching until the voting rights of our fellow citizens are restored. The winds of justice and the will of the people are moving us forward. Let your senator know where you stand and hold him/her accountable for debating and hopefully approving HB-70. Let the people vote to upgrade our State Constitution.

Please visit http://www.change.org/petitions/kentucky-state-senate-pass-house-bill-70 and sign the petition to pass HB70.  This is part of an individual project for the UofL Kent School of Social Work.  It's easy and only takes a couple of minutes to sign. Thank you!

Everybody has a right for second chance.  I believe that if the crime was done at a young age and has not been in ay trouble since, pay taxes and are being a productive citizen, they deserve a chance.  I'm sure everyone can't cast stones in glass houses.

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