LINCOLN, Neb. – A voting rights project supporting Nebraskans who are involved in the criminal legal system is entering its third year.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska is once again mailing voting rights information to Nebraska’s county jails. The civil rights organization has sent the information to Nebraska’s jails ahead of state and municipal elections since the spring of 2020.
This year’s “Know Your Rights” mailing includes voter registration forms, early voting ballot applications and pamphlets with election deadlines, eligibility requirements and answers to common questions. The packets were mailed last Thursday and should arrive at all of their destinations no later than today.
ACLU of Nebraska Legal and Policy Counsel Rose Godinez said the project seeks to provide clarity to Nebraskans who are incarcerated and corrections officials alike.
“Democracy works when all of us can participate in our elections freely and fairly, but eligible voters in our jails often face barriers to the process,” Godinez said. “Because of stark racial disparities in our criminal legal system, these barriers impact Nebraskans of color the most. We’re proud to be continuing this project and we’re once again ready to make sure every eligible Nebraskan can exercise their right to vote.”
Misdemeanor convictions and related jail sentences are a source of common voter questions even though misdemeanor convictions do not affect voting rights. By contrast, Nebraskans who have been convicted of a felony must wait two years to vote after completing the terms of their sentence, including any parole or probation. This year, a legislative proposal to end the felony conviction waiting period advanced out of committee but did not get a floor vote.
This month’s mailing is just the latest of the ACLU of Nebraska’s efforts to protect the voting rights of people impacted by the criminal legal system. In 2020, the organization found election officials had sent voter disqualification notices to Nebraskans who should not have received them. In response, the Secretary of State’s office corrected individual voter records and sent guidance to county election officials.