Nearly 40,000 people with felonies in Louisiana can once again vote.
A new law went into effect today. It restores voting rights for felons who have been out of jail for five years or longer.
Those affected are getting some help, making sure they’re ready for the ballot box.
“I’ll be able to do a lot with my little vote that I have. It will mean something to the community,” said now-registered voter Stanley Zenon.
Zenon has waited 23 years for the opportunity to register to vote. He says he never imagined his right would be reinstated.
“We have to come out if we want to straighten up life in the community.”
Lee Gallien has waited sixty years.
“I never thought I would be able to vote for anybody or anything because it wasn’t in my mind to vote,” said new voter Gallien.
Gallien is still going through the registration process. He says while incarcerated, he used an alias. Now, he’s waiting for corrected paperwork from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
A group called VOTE is helping them get their voting rights certificate from the Department of Corrections. They also are helping them with the voter registration process.
“It’s a very humbling experience and overwhelming. Knowing that not only us, but several organizations and citizens have fought for this for many, many years, it’s a wonderful feeling,” said Kelly Garret, a member of VOTE, also knows as Voters Organized to Educate.
State Representative Terry Landry says this is a monumental moment for thousands of Louisianians.
“This is worth nothing if you don’t go vote. If you don’t go vote, you’ve wasted a lot of people’s time, energy, blood, sweat and tears,” asserted Landry.