Felons have unique opportunity to restore voting rights

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - With it being an election year, election officials want everyone to know their rights when it comes to casting their vote.

Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday said many people who have committed a crime aren't aware they have an opportunity to get their voting rights back.

"I think that's one thing that makes Arkansas unique because there is the opportunity if an individual has been convicted of a felony that they can actually get those voting rights restored," Holliday said.

At the Craighead County Courthouse, there is a pamphlet available that explains exactly how you can restore your rights.

There are several requirements.

"It has to be a non-violent offender, and it also has to be a first-time offender, and after they have went through and if they have had to do incarceration, after that is completed, probation and parole is completed, and that they have taken care of all their fines and fees, so all of their debt has been completely fulfilled and paid off, then there is a process they can go through to actually get their voting rights restored," Holliday said.

If the crime was committed in a different county, you will have to provide proof to the clerk's office that all the sentencing and fines associated with the crime were taken care of in that county.

Holliday said it is also important people know that just because you made one mistake doesn't mean you've lost your voting rights forever.

"You know, there is a large number of individuals that are not re-offenders that, you know, they messed up one time when they were 18, 19, 20 years old," Holliday said.

There have been several people go through the process to restore their voting rights in Craighead County.

"A lot of them think they've lost all these rights for good, and I do think it's important for people to understand there are processes you can go through if you are not a repeat offender and it was just a one-time goof and was a non-violent crime," Holliday said.

It's not too late to register for the May primary elections.

Holliday said the last day to register to vote is April 23.

If you are interested in getting rights restored, Holliday said it's a good time to get the process going.

Holliday encouraged anyone with questions about the process or simply to find out if you are registered to vote to call his office at 870-933-4520.

You can also stop by the courthouse in Jonesboro located at 511 South Main Street, Suite 202.

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