Every election is unique and exciting, especially for those voting for the first time or for a candidate about whom they are particularly passionate. However, some election years establish crucial precedents and mark a new path forward for the democratic process in a specific area.
North Carolina just witnessed such a historical moment in the November 2022 general election. For the first time ever in state history, felons who have served their sentence had the opportunity to vote, regardless of their probation or parole status.
Thousands of people became eligible to vote again
Previously, felony convictions in South Carolina often resulted in permanent disenfranchisement. An individual released from state custody after serving their sentence would not be able to vote again unless they finished probation or received a pardon.
However, denying someone the right to vote forever over a mistake that may have occurred decades ago is not necessarily an appropriate punishment. There have been challenges related to state law on this issue, and current state policy allows felons released from custody to vote pending state Supreme Court review in 2023.
This last election was the first time when released felons had the opportunity to vote. As many as 55,000 individuals who have already paid their debt to society got to make their voices heard in the 2022 election.
Voting rights are just one more concern when facing criminal charges
The idea that you will never get to vote again is probably the furthest thing from your mind when the police put you in handcuffs. People often become so hung up on the criminal penalties imposed during sentencing, such as jail time, community service, probation and fines, that they fail to consider the secondary consequences of criminal convictions.
The loss of voting rights, the inability to pass a background check and social stigma are all also serious concerns for those with a criminal record. When you decide to fight back against a criminal charge, you don’t just keep yourself out of prison. You also preserve your basic rights and reaffirm your good standing in the community. Recognizing what you stand to lose could inspire you to pursue an assertive criminal defense strategy for your pending charges.