Ex-Felons Can Vote, But Many Don't in South Carolina - DatelineCarolina

Ex-Felons Can Vote, But Many Don't in South Carolina

Andy Yi talking about the lack of being informed of his rights to vote. Andy Yi talking about the lack of being informed of his rights to vote.

By: Manuel Gonzalez

.  Convicted felons in South Carolina can regain their right to vote after they've completed their probation or parole period in those states.  Ten states in this country prohibit former felons from voting but South Carolina has been allowing them to register since 2003.   

Andy Yi is one of them.  For years he believed he could not vote in any elections because he was an ex-convict,. 

"Just always heard that whenever you get a felony that you forfeit your right to vote and a few other rights you know," he said. 

Then Andy received a letter telling him he can vote, but he says he never got a follow-up letter say when or how.

"I think the myth that after you get a felony and you can't vote even after ou done with all your time and probation and whatever.  You get a letter when you first start but you don't get a letter at the end."

Peter O'boyle, spokes person for the Department of Probation explained all the voting information is in the offenders handbook and is given to every person that comes through the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon service.

The South Carolina New Democrats say the Department of Probation has only been putting that voting information out since 2003 and offenders released before then were not given that information.

The Department of Probation, Pardons and Parole Services estimates that since 1983 to 2003, up to 250,000 ex-offenders could be in the state and eligible to vote again.

The American Civil Liberties Union is one organization that is pushing the state of South Carolina to notify all people when they regain their right to vote.

The Public information officer for the Election Commissions office Chris Whitmire says, "We don't contact felons that leave the correctional system or when they complete their sentence mainly because we don't know who those people are or when they are completing their sentence."

            After talking with a friend Andy was surprised to learn that he could vote.

            "A friend of mine told me he had got some felonies and was able to go and vote."

            Andy is now registered and says he will be voting in this presidential election.

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