J. PHARAOH DOSS

J. PHARAOH DOSS

Years ago I asked a man if he voted.   He said he was a felon. I didn’t know. But the self incriminating label implied his voting rights were revoked.

I told him Pennsylvania restored voting rights automatically after prison release.  The state changed that law years ago.

Without hesitation, he replied it didn’t matter.

Why doesn’t it matter?   I demanded to know.

He shrugged and said it wouldn’t change anything.

At first I thought he meant one vote out of millions has no impact on the outcome of an election.  But that wasn’t it.  What he conveyed was that voting didn’t matter, he was still a felon.  Voting restoration didn’t help him on a job application.  And that stigma was a life sentence that led to his self imposed disenfranchisement.

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