RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s Sheriff is taking steps to ensure the voices of eligible inmates will be heard in the upcoming election.
With elections taking place in Virginia in less than a month, the Richmond City Justice Center has partnered with Rolling for Freedom, a Richmond-based community service organization which helps eligible inmates restore their voting rights.
“This is not about a particular party. This is not about questions on a ballot,” said Clovia Lawrence, the organization’s founder. “It is your fundamental right in America to vote. Issues of concern to you, your family, and your future.”
Rules regarding voting rights can sometimes be confusing. In Virginia, an inmate who has not been convicted of a felony is able to vote — but inmates still face obstacles such as lack of access to information. That’s where Rolling for Freedom comes in.
“We make sure if they haven’t been convicted of a felony and they are incarcerated for a misdemeanor conviction, we get them registered to vote,” said Lawrence. “Or if they are registered, we assist them with filling out an absentee ballot.”
According to the Richmond City Justice Center, as a result of the partnership, 13 inmates received absentee ballots, six will vote once they’re released, three are working to restore their voting rights and ten are waiting to be approved for restoration.
“They’ve always been told ‘Your vote doesn’t count and doesn’t make a difference,'” said Lawrence. “Well, your voice counts and makes a difference.”
Richmond City Sheriff Antoinette Irving said inmates face many barriers when re-entering society, but restoring their voting rights is one that can be easily addressed.