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Consumer health advocates urge governor to sign bill package; NY protests for Jewish democracy heighten as Netanyahu meets UN today; Multiple Utah cities set to use ranked-choice voting in next election.

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The Pentagon wants to help service members denied benefits under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," advocates back a new federal office of gun violence prevention, and a top GOP member assures the Ukrainian president more help is coming.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

OR Bill Would Restore Voting Rights for People in Prison

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Monday, March 6, 2023   

Oregon lawmakers could restore voting rights to people currently in prison.

For the third year in a row, advocates are attempting to get a bill passed to allow people who are incarcerated on felony convictions to vote. If passed, it would make Oregon the first state to do so via legislation.

Alice Lundell - director of communications with the Oregon Justice Resource Center - said people of color and low-income people are disproportionately affected by the carceral system, and thus disenfranchised.

"We have an opportunity as a state to move beyond on that," said Lundell, "to take action in support of racial justice and to guarantee the right to vote to currently incarcerated Oregonians."

About 8.7% of Oregonians in prison are Black, even though only 2.3% of the state's population is Black. The measure would restore voting rights for about 12,000 people.

Critics say people who have committed crimes such as murder or rape should not be allowed to vote.

Under the measure, people would vote in the elections from the communities where they resided before being arrested. An analysis of the bill found it would cost about $800,000 to implement over the next four years.

Lundell said the state's vote-by-mail system would make it easier to implement. She also noted that people in prison want this right back and are interested in criminal-justice policies.

"There are very few people in the community who are more impacted by decisions made by elected officials and by government," said Lundell, "than people who are currently in the custody of the state."

Maine and Vermont are the only states that never disenfranchised incarcerated people. Washington, D.C. has also recently restored voting rights for people in prison.

Lundell noted that some incarcerated Oregonians already are allowed to vote, such as people in jail for misdemeanor charges or those waiting for a trial.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.




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