Jed Blackerby always understood, following his 2003 felony conviction, he had lost his right to vote. Mississippi’s constitution permanently strips the voting rights from people convicted of a number of specific felonies — 22 in total, according to the attorney general’s office. But Blackerby’s crime of aggravated assault does not appear on that list. “No one gave any guidance,” Blackerby said after learning he may still have his voting rights. “A long time ago when convicted felons, point blank, were not allowed to vote, (government officials) never made it public until afterwards that (people with) certain types of convictions were allowed to vote. It had never been publicized.” Blackerby has never visited the polls on Election Day, even though he considers himself engaged in politics and he has strong opinions about the country’s direction.
The attitude of criminal justice system administrators was simply, “You’re a convicted felon. You can’t do this. You can’t do that,” Blackerby added.
Misconceptions regarding the felony voting ban are so pervasive, lawmakers have actually introduced legislation to restore the voting rights of people who never lost them.