State senators consider amending lifetime voting ban on certain crimes

State

Mississippi Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Hob Bryan and State Senator David Blount wrapped up a hearing on the state’s lifetime voting ban.

The ban strips Mississippians of their right to vote for life if convicted for certain crimes. Offenses include writing a bad check for more than a hundred dollars or for stealing timber. 

WJTV 12’s Katey Roh has details.

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“Here i can teach people that God forgives, but Mississippi doesn’t,” said Wayne Kuhn.

Back in March, Wayne Kuhn spoke in front of a crowd outside the Secretary of State’s office about why he should regain the right to vote.

Now, six months later, he’s speaking in front of a much more powerful group… the Senate Judiciary B Committee.

“I was surprised, at the response we had, I;m really looking forward too, I believe we are making progress here in Mississippi.”

More than 25 years ago 47-year-old Kuhn served a year in jail and two years on probation. He has paid his debt but under Mississippi law he still cannot vote. According to Jody Owens with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We know almost 50,000 Mississippians just in the last 40 years have a permanent disenfranchisement ability to vote.”

“I’m suprised at home many people really can’t vote from making a mistake.”

“People who did not serve any prison time but still lose their right to vote permanently…they could be nonviolent, small offenses just two years in prison and then 30 years later you still cant vote”

And while there are hurdles moving forward, State Senator David Blount hopes to see a change soon. He says this hearing is a good place to start.

“I think it was a good meeting, I think we talked about an important topic, the bottom line is when a person commits a crime he or she is going to lose her right to vote, until they satisfy their conditions and until they pay their debt to the society…but when they’ve done that there needs to be a process where they become a full fledged citizen again…where they regain their right to vote Mississippi doesn’t do that and we need to make that change.”

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The hearing took place as the deadline to register to vote for midterms comes up. That deadline is Saturday.

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