When asked about his favorite candidate in this year’s presidential race, 31-year-old Steven Hubbard didn’t hesitate to say, “Obama’s my man.”
But that’s where his political voice ends. Hubbard, a convicted felon from Tupelo, is one of nearly 150,000 inmates and convicted felons in Mississippi who’ve lost their right to vote, nearly 7 percent of the state’s adult population.
Even though he doesn’t deny guilt for the forgery conviction that caused him to lose his right to vote, Hubbard said stripping him of his right to vote while he was in prison was un-American.
“I committed a crime and I paid my debt to society for that crime by serving time in prison,” said Hubbard. “But when I was released, my punishment didn’t end. Being stripped of the right to vote is not fair to convicted felons who pay their debt to society and serve the time given to them by the courts. It’s almost like I was exiled from the country. If I can’t vote, then I can’t be an American, right?”
Mississippi has a procedure that would allow Hubbard to have his rights restored. But with the presidential election less than six months away, some people have begun to wonder about the effect of having so many voting-age Americans disenfranchised, particularly black voters.