Nevada felons allowed to vote for the first time in 2020
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The right to vote is one many don’t take for granted. Many Nevadans are getting the opportunity to exercise that right for the first time in the 2020 election.
“I was incarcerated in the federal penitentiary and also the state penitentiary for various crimes that I committed on the street,” said Otis Lang.
Lang spent 12 years in the prison system, but he said he knew that wasn’t where he was meant to be.
“I was thinking about what I was going to do as far as getting out, how I was going to reestablish myself into the community and one of the things I was thinking about was voting,” Lang said.
While voting wasn’t important to him before his time in prison, he learned just how much impact elected officials can have over his life and future.
“To be released and get out and not have a say in society is a crime within itself,” Lang said. “The recidivism rate can’t go down and won’t go down if you don’t have the opportunity to move forward.”
Legislation passed in 2019 allows Lang and many others to vote for the first time this election.
Assembly Bill 431 stated “Any Nevada resident convicted of a felony is immediately restored the right to vote upon the individual’s release from prison. There is no waiting period or action required by the individual.”
“Four years ago, I was completely against voting in any election, let alone a presidential election,” Minister Stretch Sanders said.
Minister Stretch Sanders is the founder of New Era Las Vegas, an organization that works to help disenfranchised communities, including people who have been to prison.
“They just feel discouraged. Even though most of them know they can vote, they don’t feel that they are worthy to vote,” Sanders said. “We’re encouraging them saying, ‘Hey, this is your right.’ I don’t believe it’s your voice. Your voice is your voice. But this is a tool that you can use to knock down some things for your family, your community and yourself. Pick up that tool, brother and sister, and utilize it.”
“Each person that votes, it means something different to each one,” Lang said. “My passion for it is very deep and I voted for the first time ever. And I’m glad. I feel good.”
Lang is now a business owner and activist in Clark County. He said he’s passionate about building up communities of color and ensuring they have an equal opportunity to succeed.
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