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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The opportunity for certain inmates to participate in voting is a widely debated topic. 

On Monday, Feb. 10, the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, Mark Earley, visited the county jail to help inmates register to vote. This feat is supposedly unrelated to the recent controversy surrounding the implementation of Amendment 4, which allows convicted felons to take part in the voting process, those convicted of violent crimes such as murder or sexual assault will still not be able to take part in voting, however. A 1974 Supreme Court ruling gave non-convicted inmates the right to vote. Earley proudly upholds this ruling and says that “I think all voices in our community should be heard (and) our Constitution guarantees (that) right”. This Supreme Court ruling also decided that it was entirely constitutional to prohibit convicted felons from voting. This ruling was recently overturned with the 2018 implementation of Amendment 4. 


The voter outreach that took place on Monday for inmates was unique and differed from usual voter registration practices used for inmates. According to Supervisor Earley, a more informal approach has historically taken place to register inmates to vote. Signs and posters were made available around the detention center, but the direct presence and assistance of the Supervisor of Elections and some volunteers is a new step towards inclusion of inmates in the voting process. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office was responsible for reviewing the background of each inmate in the detention center, and directly reaching out to those who were eligible to vote. Earley states that he expects to hold a similar voter outreach program in the Fall, just ahead of the presidential election. 

Mark Earley himself hopes to reduce the negative stigma surrounding the implementation of Amendment 4 and the right of convicted felons to vote. He says “There is a lot of fear in the community about trying to get registered if you’ve been convicted of a felony… We’re trying to dispel that fear and distrust.” More enthusiastic and dedicated efforts to include non-convicted inmates in the voting process seems to be a step towards making this happen. This particular voter outreach program was done in conjunction with the Florida Dream Center. This organization aims at the rehabilitation of the less fortunate in the community and attempts to advocate for them in various forms. Some groups of people that they tend to include: imprisoned people and protecting them from disenfranchisement, homeless, hungry, as well as unemployed people.

Female inmates
Officer Bimblebury
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Philosophy & Economics major. Lover of animals, chocolate, writing & New Orleans. Plant mom. Big time dog mom. Aspiring lawyer or professor. Keep up with me on Instagram @soofeeuhhh!
Her Campus at Florida State University.