SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Nearly 35,000 felons on probation in Louisiana now have the right to vote thanks to a new law. However, those who are helping them register say not enough people are exercising their rights.
Felica Smith is still in the fight trying to figure out ways to help those like her. “We’ve fought hard to get this passed, and it has gotten passed and a lot of people hasnt taken advantage of it. I’m not for sure if it’s because some people don’t know. If the probation officers are not just encouraging them.” Smith has devoted her life to helping the 35,000 convicted felons who are eligible restore their voting rights since a new Louisiana law took effect in March.
According to the Secretary of State, only 600 have had their rights restored. People in the community are shocked by the law and are happy that some of their loved ones’ voices are now going to be heard. “I got a lot of family members that have been felons. It’s of the upmost importance. We need that out here right now,” said Devin Jones.
Local probation and parole district manager William Tuggle said although the numbers don’t show it some progress is better than nothing at all. “Over all we were anticipating some higher numbers as well but I think it’s just a matter of getting the information out to those individuals that are eligible.”
As for Smith, she’s not stopping until she can reach as many people as possible. “We’re knocking on doors letting people know hey go register to vote. If you have a background contact me. My contact information is all around Shreveport.”
To be eligible a convicted felon must have been on parole for five years or more, with no current or prior convictions.
If you or anyone you know, meet the requirements just go by and visit the local probation office on Youree Drive.