State lawmaker proposes new felon voter rights | KOB 4
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State lawmaker proposes new felon voter rights

Kai Porter
December 04, 2018 09:01 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. – One state lawmaker thinks felons should be allowed to vote while serving their sentences and plans to introduce legislation to change the current law.

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Currently, in New Mexico, convicted felons can vote once they’re done serving their sentence, meaning after they’ve been released from prison and completed their probation or parole.

State Representative Gail Chasey, a Democrat from Albuquerque, said she feels the state’s current law creates a procedural nightmare when it comes to felons and voting.

“Because they do not become eligible to regain their voting rights until they have completed probation and parole,” Chasey said. “That’s long after they’ve left prison and it happens at different points in every individual’s life and the Secretary of State and county clerks are having a hard time figuring that out.”

Chasey plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming Legislative Session that would make New Mexico the third state in the country to no longer take away a convicted felon’s right to vote.

That means felons would even be able to vote while locked up in prison.  

 “If we never removed their ability to vote I think also arguably keeps them engaged in their communities,” Chasey said.

Chasey believes if convicted felons stay engaged in their communities their chances of committing another crime after they’ve served their sentence will go down.

 “Way over 90 percent of people who go to prison get out,” said Chasey. “So do you want someone in line next to you at the grocery store who’s been properly rehabilitated and engaged in the community and caring about the community the whole time he or she was incarcerated or do you want somebody who has become a hardened criminal and doesn’t really care anymore?”

The 2019 Legislative Session begins on January 15th.

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Kai Porter

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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