We, the undersigned who created and enacted the voter education and assistance program at the Al Cannon Detention Center, take strong exception to the Nov. 17 article on voter registration for detainees.
Over the past year, we met with Charleston County elections director Joseph Debney and Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas, both of whom were wholly supportive, to implement this nonpartisan volunteer effort to ensure detainees understand their voting rights.
Although this was our first attempt, it was a fruitful exercise in democracy, educating hundreds of detainees about their rights, while registering and assisting others with absentee voting. We now know how to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to expand for upcoming elections.
South Carolina law allows individuals who have paid their debt to society to vote, while the Constitution of the United States guarantees all of its citizens who have not been convicted of a crime the right to vote.
For years, false information has been spread inside our jails and communities, leaving many in the criminal justice system to incorrectly believe they have lost their right to vote. Our project successfully countered those misconceptions and should be embraced at all levels, from the judicial system to the news media and the general public.
The potential of thousands of detainees as a “voting bloc” need not instill fear in the public, but rather motivate politicians to serve all their constituents and defend the Constitution.
This letter was also signed by Shirene Hansotia and the Rev. Thomas Dixon.