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Georgia Legislature Considering Letting More People Vote

Posted by Sean A. Black | Sep 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

According to the Atlanta newspaper, the Georgia Senate is studying the issue of persons with felony convictions being able to vote, particularly those charged with non-violent offenses.  This is apparently a very early discussion and hearing on concerns about the issue, with not a lot of particulars.

The change would require more than legislation.  The disqualification to vote is present in both the Georgia Constitution and statutes.  Based on the experience of the last few years of watching ballot proposals, most have a better than average chance of succeeding.  So, if the legislature has the will to do it, maybe it can happen.

The Georgia Constitutional provision is found at Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 3, and provides:

(a) No person who has been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude may register, remain registered, or vote except upon completion of the sentence.
(b) No person who has been judicially determined to be mentally incompetent may register, remain registered, or vote unless the disability has been removed.
So, constitutionally, a person's ability to vote is restored upon the completion of a felony sentence.  Unfortunately, judges sometimes hand out very lengthy sentences, even if it is probation.  Only in the last few years has there been a major move in Georgia against having so many of our citizens under state supervision.  
While the sentence is active, whether supervision is active or not, the person cannot register to vote, remain registered to vote, or vote.  OCGA 21-2-216(b).

About the Author

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.


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