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Michigan NewsMichigan Gov. Whitmer paving the way to give felony convicts almost the...

Michigan Gov. Whitmer paving the way to give felony convicts almost the same voting rights as everyone else

Michigan – Numerous states in the U.S. have laws in place that allow prison inmates to register to vote as soon as they are released from prison. A similar law in Michigan will now pretty much allow the same, a decision that sparked a lot of public debate after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4983. This bill will allow felony convicts to register and vote as soon as they complete their sentence and meet several legal obligations and criteria.

Allowing felons to vote is different from the usual practice in the U.S. Some people think it’s good to let them vote again, but others don’t like this idea.

The plan is to help ex-inmates register to vote after they leave prison. They will get a letter explaining how and where they can sign up to vote and what steps they need to follow.

Many former and current students of GVSU support this idea, but they believe inmates should only be allowed to vote if they have made amends and been rehabilitated. Morgan Weststrate, who studies film at GVSU, supports this change and believes that such law could help former inmates to re-integrate in the society.

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“As a whole I feel like we make it very hard for former inmates to re-enter society,” Weststrate said. “Giving them the opportunity to vote would help give some former inmates a voice as they transition back into society.”

He further clarified that no major changes are expected and there will be no large difference now when the new legislation takes effect.

Democrats could benefit more of giving Michigan felony convicts to vote after serving their time

According to David Archambault, a GVSU alum, Democrats and other liberal supporters could benefit the most with this new legislation in place. He backs this with the fact that these groups are in general softer on prosecution.

Around 44% of inmates in America are locked up for drug offenses. Many Democratic politicians want to lower the penalties for drug crimes, so it’s likely that this could heavily influence the opinions of these inmates. This is why GVSU student Nikolas Tompkins believes that yet again, Democrats could see more benefit than Republicans.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4983, paving the way to give felony convicts the right to vote after serving their time

Archambault believes that inmates might support the party that restored their voting rights, but he still thinks they have the right to vote after completing their sentences. Inmates who served their time have had already paid the punishment, so that should be enough.

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He views the restoration of voting rights as a just part of regaining freedom. Yet, he insists this right should come only after finishing their sentence, unlike in Vermont and Maine, where prisoners can vote while still in jail.

“A  judge and jury has decided that you have to pay a debt to society and to be in prison because you violated the law in some way,” Archambault said. “It doesn’t make much sense to vote and be a part of society when you have been judiciously removed from society.”

For many inmates, this new law could be a sign of hope, offering a chance to regain some control and independence they lost when imprisoned.