Duluth Advocates Want Voting Rights For Felons

Two Non-Profits Lobby In St. Paul

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It’s a controversial topic — whether felons serving the rest of their sentence out of jail should be given the same rights as law-abiding citizens.

Two well-known Duluth non-profits believe so, and they have taken their message of basic human rights to the Minnesota State Capitol. 

More than 20 people with CHUM and SOAR Career Solutions made their way to St. Paul Thursday to lobby in favor of giving criminals a second chance. 

To some people, the right to vote may be taken for granted, but for 57,000 felons across the state of Minnesota, it’s something they are desperately seeking.

Twenty other states have already changed their laws to restore voting rights to felons at the end of incarceration – instead of at the end of their probation and parole.

“We’re trying to get them the right as soon as they are released to be able to vote, so that they can feel connected to the communities and get their voices heard,” explained Emily Aldritt, with SOAR Career Solutions. 

An affected felon we spoke to, Kevin Johnson, is on probation for another 15 years.

He told us it’s nearly impossible to find a job or housing here in the Northland.

Furthermore, he said he just wants his rights back. 

“As a person on probation, I’m not allowed to vote on bonding bills or anything that affects school districts or anything,” said Johnson. 

Another hot topic discussed on the hill involved decreasing the severity of drug sentences and instead focusing on rehabilitation through the health care system or mental health programs.

Emily Aldritt, with SOAR, told us they met with local legislators on The Hill who said they would openly support the Second Chance Coalition.

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