Georgia Sheriff, Local NAACP Register Jail Inmates To Vote

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the local branch of the NAACP to host a voter registration drive at the Dekalb county jail Wednesday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which also said the sheriff’s office and the voting rights group have begun doing the drive every year.

“It is important that every citizen who has the right to vote also has a chance to exercise that right,” DeKalb Sheriff Melody Maddox said in a statement. “Many incarcerated individuals don’t realize that they can still cast absentee ballots in elections while they are in custody, but they must first be registered voters.”–AJC

Maddox is the first female and African-American female sheriff in Dekalb county history.

Maddox assumed the post after her former boss, Jeffrey Mann, stepped down two years after he was arrested for allegedly exposing himself to an undercover male police officer in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.

But Mann won praise for his leadership in instituting programs at the jail that help inmates with obtaining GEDs and vocational training, career preparation, and classes that address mental health and substance abuse issues.

In Georgia, convicted felons may vote providing they are not on probation or parole.

Some states, such as Vermont and Maine, allow inmates to cast ballots from jail or prison.

Just south of the Georgia border, Florida’s Republican leaders are fighting tooth and nail to prevent convicted felons from casting ballots. Litigation is currently pending in Atlanta’s federal appeals court in which attorneys for Florida’s governor and legislature have argued “irreparable harm” could be done to the state if felons are allowed to vote without proof they have paid untold amounts in court fines.

Opponents of the Republican effort argue that requiring the repayment of fines to vote–which is unusual in the United States–amounts to a segregation-era “poll tax”, which was supposed to have died with Jim Crow.

Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4 in 2018, which restored the voting rights of most convicted felons, but Republicans quickly found ways to dismantle the amendment.

Dekalb county is a large, Democratic leaning, majority Black, Atlanta suburban county with a population of well over a million residents.

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