Genesee County Jail inmates get to vote in Tuesday’s election

For some of the men and women behind bars, this was their first time casting a ballot.
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (5/4/2021) - One group of voters in Genesee County was not forgotten in Tuesday’s Election process.

The Sheriff’s Office, working with community partners, made sure the jail’s inmates had the opportunity to vote in the May 4 Election.

We first saw the jail make voting available to those behind bars in November’s election.

Organizers of the effort said they will continue to make this happen for every election.

As someone is brought in and booked, they’re asked if they’d like to register to vote.

“What we’ve done is being able to say okay we’re gonna extend you an opportunity to have a voice and your voice counts,” said Genesee County Ambassador Johnell Allen-Bey.

Fellow Ambassador, Percy Glover added, “Anybody who’s sitting here for pretrial services that hasn’t been convicted of anything, they have access to the vote while even a resident here at the Genesee County Jail.”

The two Genesee County Ambassadors worked with the Sheriff’s Office to turn a section of one of the jail floors into a polling place this Election Day.

Those registered were handed their absentee ballots to cast their vote. That makes sure they’re voting in the proper city or township where they reside while not behind bars.

Several men and women volunteers were also on hand, helping the voters. They’re certified poll workers who were needed because many of the inmates were voting for the first time or they may not know how to read.

“It’s a huge deal,” Glover said. “If we look at some of the local, state and national elections where some of those elections were won only by a few percent and you talk about almost 600 residents here, if you even talk about a few 100 of those people voting, it changes the game.”

Her and Allen-Bey said this May 4th election is particularly important because it involves local issues that will impact these voters when they’re done serving their time.

“They’re going back into the community, so it’s important that they go back educated. That’s what IGNITE’s all about,” Allen-Bey said. “This is a part of the process for IGNITE, to be able to educate in civics duty. And here we are.”

Allen Bey and Glover say this right should be allowed in any jail. And they’re hoping to set an example.

So far the two said both Oakland and Saginaw Counties have asked for their help working through the logistics ahead of the August primary.

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