Marilyn Watkins of McComb was convicted of shoplifting in 1999 and sentenced to three years of probation. She never had been charged with a crime prior to the shoplifting conviction and hasn’t been accused of any criminal activity since. The one thing her shoplifting conviction cost her is the right to vote. Last week, restoring the right to vote to Watkins was one of four such bills the House Judiciary B Committee voted to send to the full House. “It will mean everything to me to be able to vote again,” Watkins said in a phone interview. “I drive people to the polls to vote, and it hurts that I can’t vote myself. It has been weighing on my shoulders for a long time.”
State Rep. Willie Bailey, D-Greenville, who chairs the subcommittee for suffrage bills to restore a right to vote; said he believes people should automatically have their that right restored after they have served their sentences.
“It’s another form of voter suppression,” Bailey said of the law that takes away a right to vote for those convicted of certain crimes.
Bailey said it’s silly how the law is applied. He said it allows a person to lose his or her right to vote for such crimes as felony shoplifting and embezzlement, but not for manslaughter or burglary.
Full Article: Restoration of voting rights a piecemeal process.