Plan to Expand Voting Rights for Ex-Cons in Del. Moves Forward - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Plan to Expand Voting Rights for Ex-Convicts in Del. Moving Forward

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- Delaware is moving closer to expanding voting rights for convicted felons.

A proposed amendment would eliminate a five-year waiting period for eligible felons and allow them to vote once they've completed their sentences.  The amendment would not cover all felons. Those convicted of the most serious crimes, like murder, would not be eligible.

The amendment's sponsor, Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington, said the ball is at the 50-yard line. They want it in the end zone.

Delaware requires an amendment to pass in one session then pass again in the next to get into the constitution. This proposal passed for the first time last session.

Santo Viruet, David McCorkle and Jimmie Major are hanging out at House of Pride in downtown Dover. They all are ex-convicts. They all committed felonies. And they all have felt the impact of not being able to vote in Delaware.

"As a citizen of this country," said McCorkle. "I do believe that as a citizen of this country, I should get my right to vote back."

"That's wrong," Viruet said. "I'm a human being just like you're a human being. When is enough enough?"

"I made a mistake in life," Major said. "I paid my debt. I'm back in society. I'm doing right. Why do you want to continue to punish a person?"

"Someone who at the age of 18 made a mistake," said Keeley. "They've served their time, they've done everything that our system has asked them to do, then I think they should have the right to vote again."

Opponents of the amendment say voting is a privilege earned by being a good citizen.

"It has always been a deterrent, I've thought, that you keep in place," said Rep. Danny Short, R-Seaford. "If you commit a felony in this state, you do not have all the privileges and rights of every other citizen."

"I can agree that I do think it's a privilege," said Keeley. "But I also think it's a right."

"Changes - that's what I'd like to see," Santo said. "This is a new day and age. This is 2013. Let an ex-convict vote."

Keeley says she plans to introduce the legislation for this session's version next week.

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