From today’s NBC News:
Oregon state Democrats have advanced a bill that would allow people who are incarcerated in the state to vote.
If enacted, the bill would make the state only the third in the nation to allow people to cast a ballot while in prison or jail. Criminal justice experts estimate that approximately 12,000 people in Oregon would see their voting rights restored.
The bill, SB 579, would allow anyone “in the physical custody of a jail, prison or correctional facility” in Oregon to register to vote, update a voter registration and vote. Under the bill, the person would be allowed to vote in elections using the address and county he or she last resided at before being incarcerated.
Currently, only Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C. allow people to vote while incarcerated.
As it stands, Oregon is among 22 states in which people lose their right to vote while incarcerated, but where those rights are automatically restored when they are released. In 15 other states, people lose their right to vote while incarcerated but regain it following a specific period of time after the release. In the remaining 11 states, people lose their voting rights indefinitely for some crimes or must complete additional actions and tasks before the right is restored, according to reviews of state laws by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Supporters have lauded the proposed legislation saying it restores a fundamental civil right.
“Voting is just such an integral component to the way that we’ve built democracy,” Democratic state Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, said in an interview. “People vote when they are in nursing homes, when they are in hospitals, people have the right to vote when they are receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse or mental health issues. We don’t condition the right to vote. Once we start making exceptions to that, where do you stop?”
Read the complete story here.