I found myself at the Burlington Branch Library for the June meeting of the Knox County Democratic Party District 1 meeting. This was my very first Democratic meeting and they seemed to welcome me in with open arms and smiles, this is the meeting for my district but that wasn’t the reason why I wanted to go. I along with around 30 other people were all there to hear about restoring voting rights for felons.
This meeting gave valuable information that I had never heard before. Brandy Slaybaugh an attorney here in Knoxville and a City Council candidate, started the meeting with giving the name and number of Jim Kriplean 582-2080 who specializes in helping felons get their voting rights back.
Here is the information that was given: The main thing is you have to be out of jail and off parole and all your fees have to be paid including any missed child support. The reason I say that is when someone is in jail for a long stretch of time they tend to fall behind on their child support which is understandable since they are not working. Once you have given the government all there money per say, you then Can call Mr. Kriplean and he will help you fill out the right forms, and once the forms are filled out it takes around two weeks. Sounds simple right?
I feel this comes down to a deeper issue, Maurice Clark Sr, City Council District 6 candidate who has had his voting rights restored and is able to run for City Council was there to give his amazing advice and how easy or hard it was to overcome this. Clark spoke on a class that he took before he was released and on how after his dues were paid, his right to vote was restored, but there are many people out there who simply don’t know what to do or how to do it. Clarks has worked hard in Knox County on getting this information out by marches and meet n greets for almost eight years, I can say from experience that I know this for I attended one when I first started working campaigns. His drive to help people understand that their past is just that, their past, we should leave it there and move on to a better day, is an outlook on life we should all have.
I also learned that if you are in jail, waiting on being sentenced you still have a right to vote. The law states all you have to do is ask and it shall be given to you as long as you have not been sentenced yet!! WHAT??? How have I missed this, how did I not know this and why are we not told that these people could vote? Are we missing a whole new world of reaching out when we forget our jails? I mean these people have a right to pick their president right?
This republican girl walked out with a new perspective on the Democratic Party, and humbled, they definitely know their laws, and they had two candidates standing side by side working together for this meeting and not ONCE did either of them banter back and forth or say they were running for the same thing. They didn’t even mention it! O me O my I was in shock and definitely made me look at my own party and rethink some things we could be doing better!!!