/Mississippi’s felony voting ban unlikely to be addressed

Mississippi’s felony voting ban unlikely to be addressed

This week, the House Judiciary B Committee approved legislation to allow people who have had their convictions expunged to regain their voting rights. However, the legislation, if it is passed, will not address the state’s outdated and rigid constitutional provision that imposes a lifetime ban for people convicted of certain felonies. Nick Bain (Republican, House Judiciary B) stated that he would try to pass legislation to address the lifetime voting ban on certain felonies before the session started. Bain stated that he believes the judiciary should restore voting rights, and not the Legislature. People convicted of specific crimes are not allowed to vote under the Mississippi Constitution. To restore these rights, it is necessary for a legislative suffrage or gubernatorial Pardon. The current governor is the only one who has passed any suffrage bills to restore the right of voting. Tate Reeves, his predecessor Phil Bryant, and he have not granted pardons. Bain stated that he will be taking a more modest approach to this session as he doesn’t believe he can get the votes necessary to make major changes in the process of restoring voting rights. Bain stated, “Sometimes you need to eat the elephant one at a time.” Many other bills are in session this session. They would allow voting rights to be restored after an individual has completed his sentence. These bills are unlikely to be given any attention this session. READ MORE: Mississippi’s key lawmaker says it’s time to end the lifetime felony voting ban. Some legal experts believe that a modification to the Mississippi Constitution would be the best way to remove the language prohibiting felonies-convicted voters from voting. To amend the Constitution to repeal the felony disenfranchisement language, it would require a vote of two-thirds in each chamber. Many legal experts suggested that lawmakers could instead of amending the Constitution, and instead of passing a bill to restore mass voting rights, at a Bain hearing last year. On social media, Rep. Zakiya Sommers, D.Jackson pointed out that Mississippi is the only state in the country that requires legislative action to restore suffrage. Bain suggested that he might consider introducing a bill to restore rights to large groups of people. He is instead focusing on ensuring that those who have had their convictions expunged can vote. “This is an existing law. “Some counties already do it, while others aren’t,” Rep. Shanda Yotes, I-Jackson said about the bill that was passed this week. “This bill is clarifying an existing law.” READ MORE. Mississippi ex-felons can still vote in Mississippi. However, no one is telling them. The Legislature has increased the number of crimes that can be expunged through the judicial system in recent years. Bain stated that most convictions, except for those for violent or sex crimes, can be expunged. Bain said that the law does not allow people convicted for embezzlement to have convictions erased. Bain suggested that the Judiciary B Committee might also consider legislation to make it possible. Bain’s testimony indicated that expungement can be complicated and requires the assistance of an attorney. Rep. Jansen Owen (R-Poplarville) said that while most felonies are eligible for expungement, they do not result in people losing their voting rights. Arson, bigamy and bribery are all disenfranchising offenses. In 1950s, murder and rape were also disfranchising offenses. The state’s Jim Crow era is the origin of the current system of disenfranchisement of felonies convicted. In the 1890s, Mississippi’s Supreme Court decided that disenfranchisement for people convicted of certain felonies would be in the Constitution. This was done “to obstruct exercise of the franchise of the negro races” by targeting “the offenses which its weaker members were predisposed to.” These crimes were chosen by white political leaders because they were more likely to be committed African Americans. A person can be convicted of selling drugs and voted while in prison. However, a person who is convicted for writing a bad cheque would lose their right of vote for life. Two cases are pending before U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit regarding the disenfranchisement provision. The provision’s intention is identical to the poll tax, literacy test, and other Jim Crow-era provisions designed to keep African Americans out of the voting booth. READ MORE: Federal court hears that the Jim Crow-era voting ban should not be lifted