With confusing system, local attorney helping lead ex-cons to the polls

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Confusion over felons’ voting rights vary widely by state. A local attorney is making sure people in the metro are prepared ahead of the November General Election.

“I think that most people think that once they get a felony, that they can never vote again. I know people who have felonies who didn’t vote 10 years later,” said Natasha Scruggs, attorney and social activist. “It is complicated. It’s not like people are just ignorant. Every single state has its own laws.”

Missouri and Kansas are among 21 states where felons lose the right to vote until they complete their probation or parole terms.

Scruggs believes the confusion from state to state dealing with people previously incarcerated leads to voter suppression, especially among black people who account for a disproportionate and large amount of men and women behind bars.

“I told myself, once I got off paper that I was always going to get back out there and vote and just be a part of a regular life. It actually feels good to be able just to go vote and say that you did it,” York Wilson said.

Wilson is the CEO of Strategic Workforce Development. While he helps people through his unique re-entry program, like Scruggs, he’s also helping educate people on their rights ahead of this election.

After completing parole in 2018, he said this will be the first time ever voting in a presidential election.

“This is my first presidential election ever, ever. So it’s got to be fun,” Wilson said. “I’m going to go out and put on my shirt and who I voted for and let everybody know like hey, I’m actually practicing one of my constitutional rights.”

The deadline to register to vote online, in-person or by mail is Oct. 7 in Missouri and Oct. 13 in Kansas.

Scruggs Law Office is assisting with people previously incarcerated to re-instate their voting rights.

“This is confusing. This is a big mess, especially now because we have so many different options like mail-in voting, so I feel like all of that confusion is possible to lead to less black people at the polls, less people of color at the polls. And that means that it will be unfair our election,” Scruggs said.

For more info, contact the office at 816-203-0732.

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