An American Civil Liberties Union survey released this week found local South Carolina election officials don't know enough details about allowing ex-felons to vote in South Carolina.
The ACLU, which has conducted similar surveys in 20 states and the South Carolina Progressive Network, a coalition of organizations working for social change, are now calling for changes in state voting laws and more education.
"The history of voter registration in the United States is a history of preventing people from voting and we're still living that history," Brett Bursey, executive director of the Progressive Network, told the Associated Press. "The people on the streets don't understand (the rules), and if they go to their election commission, they're going to get this kind of wrong information," Bursey said, explaining that several ex-felons the network attempted to register to vote recently thought they couldn't vote because of past incarcerations.
The groups called for better training of election officials and law changes that would restore voting rights immediately after someone leaves prison or jail. The two organizations hope the survey will result in more training for election officials. They also want the state to notify people when they regain their right to vote.
According to South Carolina's The State newspaper:
Under South Carolina law, those convicted of felonies are prohibited from voting until they complete their sentences, including parole and probation. Those convicted of violating any election law-felonies or misdemeanors-are also prohibited from voting until their sentences have been served. Then, the right to vote is restored.
Similar laws are in effect in North Carolina and Georgia.