Oral arguments for voting rights case held at LSU Law School

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals heard the oral arguments for a major voting rights case at the LSU Law School Tuesday morning.

VOTE v. Louisiana concerns the eligibility of felons now on probation or parole, who still wish to vote.

Back in 1976, the legislature changed the state law, suspending the voting rights for parolees until their probationary period is over.

In 2016, the organization VOTE filed a suit, declaring that law unconstitutional.

Bill Quigley, a professor of law at Loyola University in New Orleans, argued on behalf of the plaintiffs.

"Voting helps people participate in the community, it helps public safety, it helps rehabilitation in life," he said. "So it's in all of our interests that people who are putting their lives back together, who are working, paying taxes, going to church and the like, get a chance to vote."

Many people from VOTE showed up to watch the arguments.

Felicia Smith came all the way from Shreveport.

"If you want them to become a productive citizen, why not get the rights that a regular citizen gets, and not reinstate their rights back," Smith said. "I mean, you already did the time so now it's time for you to learn to do the right things that normal citizens are supposed to do."

VOTE says there's over 70,000 parolees in Louisiana that cannot vote.

Judges Toni Higginbotham, Guy Holdridge, and Allison Penzato heard the arguments.

Lawyers are not expecting a decision for at least several months.

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