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Campbellsville University student weighs in on voting rights for felons

By Amber Meade, communications assistant, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Turning 18 is a milestone in America; A milestone that allows you to purchase spray paint, fireworks and lottery tickets, get married without parental consent and vote in all national and local elections once you are registered to vote.

However, your right to vote can be stripped away once you commit a felony – and you might not get it back depending on what state you are in.

Campbellsville University student Roger Fox was one of those persons who could not vote because of a felony conviction.

In a story, “Push to Give Felons the Vote Shifts to Iowa and Kentucky,” published by the Wall Street Journal, Fox is quoted saying, “I know I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I’ve held up my end of the bargain. I’ve been made whole again except for this, and it bothers me.” The story is about overturning the law so felons will regain their right to vote after completing their sentences.

Fox is a person in recovery who is five years sober, the program director for a drug treatment center in Danville and a sophomore student at the Harrodsburg Conover Education Center of Campbellsville University.

Fox will complete a bachelor’s degree in social work to better serve those recovering from substance abuse problems.

According to one of his Campbellsville University professors, Dr. Dan Phillips, assistant professor of criminal justice, “Roger is great to have in class. I have taught him in both sociology and criminal justice classes. Roger adds value to classes by sharing his knowledge and experience with other students.”

Kentucky and Iowa are the only states left that restrict voting rights for felons.

NonprofitVote.org states, “Voting rights can ONLY be restored through an individual petition or application to the government in Iowa and Kentucky.

“Kentucky’s constitution permanently bars all individuals with past felony convictions from voting, unless the governor restores the right to vote.”

NonprofitVote.org said “In Maine and Vermont, voting rights are retained while in prison for a felony conviction, while voting rights are restored automatically upon release from prison in The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah.

“Voting rights are restored automatically once released from prison and discharged from parole (probationers can vote) in California, Colorado, Connecticut and­­ New York.

“Voting rights are restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole and probation in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Virginia now does this by policy of the current governor.

“Voting rights restoration is dependent on the type of conviction and/or the outcome of an individual petition or application to the government in Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming.”

Visit https://on.wsj.com/2UuTphC for the full Wall Street Journal story.

Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 13,000 students offering more than 90 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with Kentucky instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. The university also has a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.