Thousands of N.C. felons are now able to vote as Election Day nears

Across the state, approximately 56,000 convicted felons now have the right to vote.
Thousands of felons across the state are now eligible to vote for the first time.
Published: Oct. 23, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Days into early voting and two weeks out from Election Day, there’s a new group of voters that will be casting their ballots for the very first time.

Thousands of felons, who gained the right to vote in North Carolina earlier this year, are headed into their first election.

Amir Shabazz, a 52-year-old who spent 31 years behind bars, said he will register to vote and vote for the first time in his life on Monday.

“Tens of thousands of people like me now have restored rights,” he said.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections said in July that a state superior court reversed the ruling that denies felons who are serving probation, post-release supervision or parole the right to vote.

It means Shabazz is among the 56,000 felons in the state who now have the right to register to vote and can vote as long as they’re out of jail or prison.

“Previously the law in North Carolina was you couldn’t vote until you had completed your probation, parole or post-release,” Kathleen Roblez, an attorney with Forward Justice, said.

Roblez personally worked on the lawsuit to overturn the state felony disenfranchisement law.

“When you have 56,000 people who are disproportionately Black who are being disenfranchised, who are not being allowed to participate in an electionm so it’s really important for us that everyone has their voice,” Roblez said.

“If I’ve served the time, paid my debt to society as they say, then society owes me that right,” Shabazz said.

Any voter still needs to be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old, and must have lived in the state at least 30 days prior to the election.

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