Senate considers bill allowing ex-prisoners to vote

By October 20, 2011

USA (MNN) — Voting is a given right for American citizens, right? Not exactly.

Over a century ago, women began holding conventions and demonstrations to earn their right to vote. African Americans were denied the right to vote for ages, but over 50 years ago, they were granted the right as well. It seems like every legal citizen is now able to vote, but that's not exactly true. So who's not allowed?


Dr. David Schuringa with Crossroad Bible Institute explains, "In about 37 of the 50 states, there are restrictions on people even though they've finished their time in prison. In some states, they're not allowed to vote ever. And other states, they have a lot of hoops to jump through."

Schuringa argues that these laws really don't allow for the offender to reintegrate into society, hindering the recovery process.

"If people do not have the right to vote, they're not invested in their communities or in their countries. What we want to see are ex-offenders and their families getting off the entitlement fringes of society, and getting into the economic mainstream where they can be invested, where they have a stake, where they have something to say," notes Schuringa.

The laws could soon be changing. As soon as tomorrow, the U.S. Senate will put the Democracy Restoration Act to the vote.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, "The Democracy Restoration Act (DRA) is federal legislation that seeks to restore voting rights in federal elections to the nearly 4 million disenfranchised Americans who have been released from prison and are living in the community."

In other words, Schuringa says, "It's a bill that allows, at the federal level, for ex-offenders to be able to vote."

A decision will be made on the DRA tomorrow or early next week.

Schuringa believes Christians should get involved to get the bill passed. "Proverbs 31:8-9 says that we are to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are to be a voice for the voiceless. Frankly, I can't think of a better way to be a voice for the voiceless than to give the voiceless a voice to vote."

Schuringa says believers have a responsibility to speak up on this issue. Most people don't have a seat in the Senate, but they can e-mail or call their state senators today, urging them to vote in favor of the DRA.

The DRA is supported by CBI, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, and Chuck Colson Prison Fellowship Ministries. Schuringa does not believe it is a Republican or Democrat issue, just a responsibility. He believes it may even open doors to show ex-offenders and even current prisoners that Christ loves them.

If you agree with this new bill, contact your senators today, and pray that this might speak Christ into the lives of those on society's fringes.

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