Election Day is less than a month away now, and early voting starts next week.
Tuesday, 13WMAZ viewer Andre Foster sent an email saying, "In the state of Georgia, once you complete your sentence, you have your voting rights reinstated." We wanted to verify whether ex-felons can vote, so Yvonne Thomas checked the state law, and spoke to the Georgia Secretary of State's Office and Houston County Board of Elections.
An advocacy group, The Sentencing Project, estimates that nearly a quarter million Georgians are ineligible to vote due to prison sentence, parole or probation. That's about one out of every 30 people of voting age.
We verified how that works under Georgia state law, and how those people can get their voting rights back. “The state runs a periodic check to see who still serving sentences,” said Election Assistant Andy Holland. “Those that are registered to vote we will send them a letter and remove them from the list.”
In the State of Georgia you can register if you are a U.S. citizen and a legal resident of the county you wish to vote in at least seventeen and a half years old. But not every can vote. “If you've been convicted of a felony and you're still serving the sentence you cannot be registered to vote or vote,” said Holland.
Candice Broce of the Georgia Secretary of State's Office says under Georgia code section 21-2-216, no person convicted of a felony can vote or register to vote before completing their full sentence.
A convicted felon can have their voting rights reinstated after they meet certain requirements with their parole officer through the Georgia Department of Corrections.
“They can re-register and vote only when the complete sentence has been served,” said Holland. “Which includes not only time in jail but fees, parole, probation.”
Holland says even though Election Board offices are closed now. You can register to vote on the Secretary of State Office website until midnight.