Dems Want Mississippi to Restore Felon Voting Rights

( – Two democrats running for separate top-tier political offices in Mississippi say they want the voting rights of certain felons in their state to be restored.

Greta Kemp Martin, candidate for Attorney General, and Ty Pinkins, who is running for Secretary of State, say the current Republican occupants of their hopeful seats are employing outdated and racist Jim Crow-era laws in an attempt to keep a particular constituency out of the voting booth.

On August 4th, judges with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that Mississippi residents convicted for the crimes of bigamy and forgery can no longer be prevented from voting. The panel, which is considered by many to lean conservative, said that the Mississippi law equated to cruel or unusual punishment and ran counter to protections afforded to voters under the U.S. Constitution.

Mississippi’s current Attorney General, Lynn Fitch, is representing Secretary of State Michael Watson in an appeal to the Fifth Circuit’s decision. The pair made their legal filing on August 18th and asked for the entire 16-judge court to render a ruling. Only three judges were involved in the initial 2-1 decision.

On September 14th, Kemp Martin said that felons whose sentences have been served “deserve the right” to reenter their communities and once again take part in the “most sacred” of “rights.” The candidate for Attorney General had previously said that the appeals court made the right decision when they chose to strike down the Mississippi law.

Kemp Martin recently added that if elected, she intends to drop the state’s request concerning a rehearing. If the Fifth Circuit’s ruling goes unchanged, it has the potential to alter election outcomes in Mississippi, as tens of thousands of new voters will be eligible for participation in both state and national elections.

At a recent press conference in Vicksburg, Pinkins similarly said that former prisoners should be given back their right to vote.

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