Suit alleges paperwork voting hurdle for some ex-prisoners

Louisiana imposes an unfair and illegal paperwork requirement for some former prison inmates who have regained the right to vote, criminal justice and voting rights advocates say in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court.

The lawsuit says that under laws passed in 2019 and 2021, convicted felons are automatically granted the right to vote when they have been out of prison for five years. But, the lawsuit points to an apparent quirk in the law that treats some formerly incarcerated people different than others.

Those who are registering to vote for the first time don’t have to show any paperwork to register, according to the lawsuit.

But those who were already registered to vote when they were convicted of a crime had their registration placed on “suspended” status, according to the lawsuit, and they have to obtain and present paperwork proving that they are eligible.

The lawsuit alleges that the requirement is the result of a misreading or misapplication of state law. It asks the federal court in Baton Rouge to halt the practice.

John Tobler, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, said Ardoin’s office had not yet been served with the lawsuit and would not comment on pending litigation.

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