AP — Nevada has restored voting rights to ex-felons, putting the state in line with at least a dozen other states that automatically grant voting rights to people once they are released from prison.
Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said at a news conference Monday in Las Vegas that voting is an important part of re-integrating into the community and his office would work to spread the word about the new law.
The change moves Nevada away from a more complex system in which an ex-felon's right to vote depended on their crime, completion of probation or parole, the year they were convicted and whether a judge approved giving them back the right to vote.
Supporters of the law estimate about 77,000 ex-felons in Nevada will regain the right to vote under the change.
One of those is Jovan Jackson, a 27-year-old who completed parole in January after serving about two years in prison on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit robbery.
``All it takes is one mistake to become a felon. That one mistake could dictate your entire life,'' Jackson said at the news conference. ``How do we expect people to better themselves when we make things harder for them?''
After speaking, Jackson registered to vote and smiled wide as he held up a receipt showing he completed his registration.
Ora Watkins, a 57-year old who has served a combined 10 years behind bars over the last three decades for various charges, including a drug-related charge and a felony DUI, got emotional when she registered to vote Monday.
``It feels so good,'' Watkins said. ``I've always felt like, well, `Why won't they give me a chance?' I do have a say.''
Gov. Steve Sisolak approved the new law in May. It's among more than 200 new laws that took effect Monday.