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60 Days Left in NV to Restore Voting Rights

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 By Michael Clifford/Steve Powers, Contact
August 11, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – The clock is ticking for an estimated 20,000 Nevadans who have paid their debts to society and have a chance to regain their right to vote, in time for the upcoming presidential election. Under a new state law, most people who have served their time for non-violent offenses can file papers to get a voter registration card.

Mike Aguirre was in his 20s when he admitted his guilt to a drug charge, and his three years of probation ended long ago. Now, he's forty.

"It just seems like this election, there's so much attention focusing on it, I want my voice to count; I want to be part of this, basically making history, this campaign, and I just want to be a part of it."

Political analysts say the 19 electoral votes of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico combined could tilt the election.

Aguirre says he thinks a lot of Nevadans with records don't know they can restore their voting rights. Most Nevadans who were released from prison prior to July 2003 are automatically eligible to have their voting rights restored. For those released in August 2003 and after, only non-violent offenders are eligible.

In passing the law, Nevada joined 33 other states in allowing people who have done their time and stayed on the right side of the law to return to the voting booth.

Meredith McGhan is the voter restoration advocate for PLAN, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

"We're really hoping that we'll get a lot of people involved in this because it's just so important that people participate in civic engagement; it reduces their chances of re-offending, it makes them feel like they are part of the community again, and I think that's just really important in a democracy."

People who have completed their sentences can start the process on their own as long as they have documentation of their release, discharge or pardon. Nevadans who need help obtaining that paperwork can get help from the PLAN voter restoration project.

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