Fifteen students from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City lobbied legislators yesterday (Thursday), urging support of a bill that would restore voting rights to many convicted felons after they’ve done their time. Sixteen-year-old Antonio Chalmers, a junior at Metro High in Cedar Rapids, says the state punishes felons for a life time by not giving them back the right to vote. Seventeen-year-old Jorel Robinson, a junior at Metro High, too, says felons who have completed their sentence should be able to vote. “Thirty-eight other states have agreed with this and I don’t see why Iowa shouldn’t either,” Robinson says. Robinson knows someone who he believes should be able to vote.Robinson says when the gentleman was 17 years old, he stole four tires and became a felon. The man’s now 50, and can’t vote. “Those are the type of things…that got me interested and real passionate about what we’re doing here,” Robinson says. “We have the highest prison population in the world, and if we can’t figure out a way to reintroduce (ex-prisoners) into society, there’s no way this is going to work. You can’t really be a part of a democracy yet eliminated from it and expect them to respect that.” Seventeen-year-old D’Anthony Money, a student at Senior High Alternative Center, a school in Iowa City, believes voting rights should be restored only if ex-felon proves they’re on the right track. “Things like (automatic restoration of voting rights) just shouldn’t happen, because who’s to tell what you’ll do next?” Money says. Money’s older brother got in trouble with the law in his late teens, but Money says his brother’s got his act together now. “I hope my brother’s voting rights will be restored. He’s been out of jail. He’s been doing good,” Money says. “Sometimes he just (feels) like giving up, but I just (tell) him ‘Don’t give up.'” Money says his brother made a mistake and should be forgiven because he’s turned his life around.
You are here: / / Students lobby Legislature over ex-con’s voting rights