Billboards help encourage people convicted of a felony to know their voting rights

Local man will be first-time voter

Ad campaign hopes to get people convicted of felony to vote

MADISON, Wis. - A new ad campaign is trying to help people who were convicted of a felony learn whether they're eligible to vote.

State law allows felons to vote once they're "off paper," meaning they have finished all probation, parole and extended supervision.

"If we had a dollar for every time somebody said, 'I can't vote.' 'Why not?' 'I'm a felon.' 'Are you off paper?' 'Yes.' 'You can vote,'" Molly McGrath said. 

McGrath is the Wisconsin director for the "All Voting is Local" campaign, which has billboards, digital ads, radio ads and bus ads in communities around the state, including Madison and Beloit.

"With the billboards, we're targeting low-income communities. We're targeting communities of color," she said.

Jerome Dillard and Aaron Hicks both do work for EX-Incarcerated People Organizing, or EXPO, and want to help break the stigma associated with committing a felony.

"Individuals are being judged by one act or one period of their lives, and they're being defined as that person or what they did," Dillard said.

Hicks is 45 years old and has never voted before and will get the chance for the first time in November.

"I've never had that opportunity before. I've been on some type of supervision since '89," Hicks said. "It's like you're ostracized, like you're not part of the community. You have no voice, no say."

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