The D.C. Board of Elections went to the DC Jail Wednesday to help non-felon prisoners cast absentee ballots.
Most inmates at DC Jail are not felons. Many, if not most, haven’t been convicted of anything and are awaiting trial.
“We’ve done this for at least the last three or four elections cycles,” a Board of Elections representative said. “D.C. is unique. We’re only one of three jurisdictions that offers voting to inmates.”
Inmates were allowed to vote with the help an elections official and witnessed by a non-partisan poll observer.
“I think it’s fair that we can still be a part of the community, still have a choice, a voice, an opinion, and most important, our vote still counts,” one inmate who voted Wednesday said.
“It’s important for all young black people to vote because the majority of my kind, and I’m 32, they don’t vote,” another inmate said.
“We want to involve everybody in the franchise,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Every inmate is given a voter registration card when they are first admitted to the jail.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise at all, because, even though we’ve been removed temporarily, we’re still a part of the community regardless of our circumstances and our situation,” an inmate said.
Felons at the DC Jail are not allowed to vote until they complete their sentences.