Pennsylvania lawmakers look to increase voting access for people behind bars
A big reason is because jails don’t have policies on voter registration or how to help inmates get mail-in ballots.
Rep. Rick Krajewski, D- Philadelphia, is sponsoring legislation to increase access for prisoners.
He notes it’s a good step to reintegrate them into society.
“We have to figure out how we actually promote compassion and rehabilitation when it comes to talking about real justice and real accountability,” Krajewski said.
Krajewski introduced two pieces of legislation to deal with the issue.
Krajewski notes he is primarily focused on the first measure.
He has been working with groups, such as the PENNFranchise Project, and the Philadelphia County Commissioners Office to get the legislation to the finish line.
Leigh Owens, executive director at the PENNFranchise Project, said the legislation would go a long way in addressing the issue of inmates not being able to vote.
“This isn’t a radical idea, this is simply a blueprint for county jails to follow to ensure that they are in compliance with what the current law has outlined,” Owens said. “We are looking forward to working with our elected officials in Harrisburg to help ensure that this very important measure can make it across the finish line.”
The bills will first be voted on in the Democratic-controlled house. But if approved, their fate in the GOP-controlled Senate would be uncertain.
Krajewski wants people who are against the legislation to remember that many in correctional facilities still maintain their right to vote.
He also wants them to imagine if they knew someone personally that was in a jail or prison.
“I mean, wouldn’t you want to give them an opportunity to stay connected to your community? To stay connected to your local government and to have the ability to invest in themselves?,” he said.