NAACP Applauds Passage of Restoration of Voting Rights Bill in Delaware House

(Wilmington, DE)— Yesterday, the Delaware House of Representatives passed House Bill 10 to automatically restore the votes of eligible returning citizens with felony convictions. The bill passed 32-9.

“As Americans we believe in second chances and the right to vote,” said Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Yesterday's vote in the Delaware House of Representatives puts us closer to the day when a fellow citizen who has made a mistake, did their time, and paid their debt to society will be able to join the rest of their fellow Americans in performing our civic duty of voting.”

“Delaware legislatures have a chance to restore the votes of thousands of citizens,” said Richard “Mouse” Smith, President of the NAACP Delaware State Conference. “No matter the number, these are parents, neighbors, coworkers and fellow Delawareans who have paid their debt to society and deserve full access to democracy.”

Delaware is following the lead of Iowa and Virginia, Republican lead states, who are working to restore the votes of people who were formerly convicted of a felony. A restoration of voting rights bill is also moving through the Kentucky Senate.

“This bill is about fairness. If the bill passes in the Senate, legislatures will be helping to level the playing field for former offenders who are integrating back into society,” stated bill sponsor and State Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington South.

The bill will now head to the Senate. If passed, the bill will become law.

Senator Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, is the Senate sponsor of the legislation. “Voting is a right, not a privilege. Too many Delawareans, regardless of color, are being stripped of that right,” said Henry.

“During the last session, Delaware legislatures narrowly passed this legislation to help expand the vote for returning citizens. Yesterday’s vote shows that the tides are still turning,” said Jotaka Eaddy, Senior Director of Voting Rights for the NAACP. “As the bill heads to the Senate, the NAACP Restore the Votes Campaign will continue to work with the Delaware State Conference and other States Conferences to support their efforts to expand automatic restoration of voting rights across the country.”

As part of the NAACP’s campaign to restore the votes of citizens formerly convicted of a felony, NAACP State Conferences across the country are working to bring awareness to felony disenfranchisement and encourage legislative and executive policy changes.

The Restore the Votes Campaign  was launched in October 2012 following the NAACP’s delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.  As part of the visit, the delegation held a panel discussion on felony disenfranchisement and the attack on voting rights in states across the nation.

Further data on felony disenfranchisement laws, and their impact on voting aged citizens across the United States can be found here: www.restorethevotes.org.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. The NAACP is a 501c3 non-partisan organization.

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