Thousands of former felons to go to the polls in Kentucky election

Thousands of former felons to go to the polls in Kentucky election
Published: Oct. 10, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Approximately 86,000 former felons are registered to vote in Kentucky, according to activists at a Free The Vote Rally.

Governor Beshear signed an executive order in 2019 allowing non-violent felons to reclaim their right to vote after they served their time including probation and parole.

“It’s just about contacting them and getting them interested in voting,” Executive Director of Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People & Families Movement David Ayala said. “And creating a space where they feel that their vote actually matters.”

Kim George said her vote did not matter to her before she was arrested, but it certainly does now. At Tuesday’s rally, George’s t-shirt proclaimed she is “worthy,” and on election day she will celebrate a milestone.

“I am somebody,” George said. “I matter. I matter. I’m a person who is a contributing member to society. I deserve to be more than just a number or a problem that you see.”

Once a registered nurse and mother of three, George fell victim to the opioid epidemic and lost everything. She lost her job, her house and her children.

”Literally, my lowest point was homeless, walking through town with a backpack,” George said. “One night I actually slept in a storage building.”

George also lost her freedom, serving two separate terms in the McCracken County Jail.

”Once you become a felon, once you’re an addict, they just look at you as trash,” George said. “You just don’t matter anymore. You’re nothing but a problem.”

George reclaimed her self-respect, she did her time and fought for recovery. Because she was a convicted felon, she also had to regain her right to vote.

As of Tuesday, George is now one of thousands of previously incarcerated Kentuckians who have registered to vote.

The rally was the beginning of a statewide campaign to encourage those voters to push for justice reform and go to the polls. November will be the first time George has ever voted.

When asked who will be the winner on election day, George said, “I feel like I am.”