DC Jail helps inmates vote, a rarity nationwide

WASHINGTON (AP) — The voters at this southeast Washington polling place were all dressed alike: orange jumpsuit, white shoes. And when they finished voting, they went back to their cell block, not back to work.

Still, voting inside the D.C. Jail looked a lot like voting at precincts around the country.

"What's your name, sir?" poll worker Arlin Budoo said as an inmate sat down at a table in front of him last month during one of two voting days.

The man gave his name and precinct. Budoo flipped through a stack of absentee ballots, found the man's and handed it over. He explained how to darken circles on the ballot to record a vote.

"Remember to vote both sides of the ballot," Budoo said.

While it seemed ordinary, the voting that went on at the D.C. Jail and a facility where women are housed next door is unique. Most states and the District of Columbia bar prisoners serving time on a felony conviction from voting. But inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide, are allowed to vote as long as they aren't barred by a past felony conviction. Full Article

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