Here at Benevolence Farm, we believe everyone deserves the right to vote — that’s why we call it a right. Unfortunately, here in the South, there are dozens and dozens of barriers that make it difficult for people to vote, particularly those with current or prior involvement in the criminal legal system. And when people do try, they often get punished, even right here in our own community (see Alamance 12).
In North Carolina, you can vote as long as you are not currently on felony probation. One of the major barriers to voting for people in jail is the difficulty accessing absentee ballots. The majority of people in jail are innocent until proven guilty – here in Alamance County, over two-thirds have yet to be convicted of a harm. And yet, because of their circumstance, they miss out on the Election.
Here’s how you can help: We need to identify as many clergy as possible who have relationships with jails (not prisons) across the state who would be willing to be trained on how to help people incarcerated in jails vote. This is a time-sensitive project as we want to provide ample time for ballots to arrive to these individuals. We are focusing on clergy as they are often the only people, besides attorneys, who can enter a jail, especially in many smaller communities like Alamance County.