NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — An event to help North Carolina residents formerly convicted of crimes register to vote is coming to New Bern on Sunday. The hope is it will uplift and offer support to those impacted as a part of the Unlock Our Vote Freedom Summer Tour.
In March, a North Carolina court determined that denying voting rights to people serving felony sentences outside of jail or prison violates our state’s constitution. Effective July 27, any individual on probation, parole or post-release supervision became immediately eligible to register and vote. It’s a change that could now impact more than 56,000 North Carolinians with over 1,000 in Craven County alone.
“If it doesn’t impact you, it impacts someone you know or a family member,” says Talina Massey, co-ambassador for Craven County Unlock Our Vote and president of the Young Urban Professionals of ENC. She said it’s about encouraging and supporting the community as a whole.
The event takes place Sunday from 2-6 p.m. at 1000 Broad Street in New Bern. The tour will include voter registration, job interviews on-site, educational and volunteer opportunities, live music, local food vendors, group prayer, fireside chats and a bouncy house.
“Our impacted communities need resources and need employment opportunities to continue to be impactful citizens and taxpayers. So we definitely will have a plethora of amazing opportunities for not just the impacted or incarcerated, formerly incarcerated community but for their families, for their friends for their children. It will be a safe and loving environment and just a real vibe.”Talina Massey, executive director YUB of ENC, Ambassador Unlock Our Vote
“We’re just getting started,” says Jameesha Harris, alderwoman and co-founder of YUB of ENC, and Ambassador for Unlock Our Vote. “This whole population that lived, but didn’t have a right to speak, and now they do, and we’re just going to amplify their voices.”
Organizers say this is just one of many similar events happening across the state.
For additional information, check out the Unlock Our Vote website.
“The State Board and county boards of elections are working to ensure that those who are now eligible to register and vote based on the recent court decision can do so. As always, we encourage all eligible individuals to exercise this important right.”Patrick Gannon, NC State Board of Elections public information officer
“Those in jail or prison for a felony conviction are not allowed to register or vote. If a person is in jail awaiting trial for a felony but has not yet been convicted, they retain their voting rights. In North Carolina, a person never loses their voting rights for a misdemeanor conviction,” read a press release from the NC State Board of Elections.