WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJLA/CNN) – Around 200 inmates in the nation’s capital exercised their constitutional rights Wednesday by voting in the city’s primary election.
According to voting laws in Washington, D.C., convicted felons are banned from voting while they are incarcerated. If someone is on probation or parole, they can vote. Those serving time for misdemeanors also can vote.
Elections officials and poll watchers were on hand Wednesday as inmates at the D.C. jail cast ballots for next Tuesday’s primary.
“In the past I was always told that if you were locked up, you could not vote,” said Samuel Davis, a jail inmate. “I believe in my civil rights.”
Among the voters was former D.C. rabbi Barry Freundel, who was convicted of voyeurism after video recording women in a religious bath area at the Kesher Israel synagogue in the Georgetown neighborhood of D.C.
“I think this is critically important. Because I think it takes inmates and says to them, ‘You still have a role. You’re still considered citizens. You can still contribute in some way to society,'” Freundel said.
Freundel is expected to remain incarcerated until 2021. He can still vote because the 52 charges he pleaded guilty to were misdemeanors.
Charles Thorton of the D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign organization spoke of the positive effects for society in encouraging inmates to vote.
“Men and women who are released that exercise their right to vote generally get back involved in the community in a positive manner,” Thorton said.
Votes collected from the inmates will be counted as absentee.
Copyright 2018 WJLA via CNN. All rights reserved.