BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We’re almost a month away from the October primaries, and if you’d like to vote in this important election, you need to register soon.
One group is putting an emphasis on trying to get ex-felons to register.
Door by door, people associated with the organization Voters Organized to Educate, or VOTE, are trying to spark some change.
“We’re going around teaching people how to be ‘power voters,’” said one individual.
“We’re really trying to speak with voters who are typically ignored by campaigns,” said Jennifer Harding, organizing coordinator for Voice of the Experienced, a part of VOTE.
That includes formerly incarcerated people like Checo Yancy, who previously served 20 years in Angola, but has been out for 16 years now.
“I’ll get a chance to vote in the October election. This will be my first time voting in 36 years. I want to see others be able to do the same thing and make a choice in who runs the state," said Yancy, director of VOTE.
In the past session, lawmakers agreed to allow people on probation or parole for a felony to register to vote as long as they haven’t been incarcerated for at least five years, but the numbers have been slim.
A change in the law earlier in 2019 gave voting rights back to thousands of convicted felons in Louisiana, but only a few have actually registered to vote.
“Fifty-six in East Baton Rouge Parish. I would’ve thought we would’ve had more of that by now,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Steve Raborn.
He says Sept. 11 is the last day to register to vote in person or by email. Sept. 21 is the last day to register online. The gubernatorial primary is Oct. 16.
Formerly incarcerated people have to take an extra step to register.
“The person who was convicted of a felony has to go to their probation officer to get a voting rights certification form. Then, they bring that in person to our office, and they can complete their registration in person at our office,” said Raborn.
People like Yancy are hopeful this process gets more streamlined and easier in the future, but knows the right to vote is too important to ignore.
“We realize that is an extra step for the FIPs, but guess what? It’s worth it. It is worth it to become a power voter, someone that votes all the time, in all elections, and engage in the candidates to know who they’re electing,” said Yancy.
Click here for a sample of the required paperwork.
The forms differentiate between if you are on federal probation or if you were convicted in state or district court. Click here for more information about voter registration.