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00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7d40002Coverage of the issues, races and people shaping Kansas elections in 2016, including statewide coverage in partnership with KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, and High Plains Public Radio.

Social Justice Group Helping Ex-Felons Register To Vote

Carla Eckels
The social justice group JENI (Jobs and Education--Not Incarceration) stands by their voter registration booth at Riverfest.

A local group is helping to register people to vote during Riverfest in downtown Wichita--including those who at one time were incarcerated.

Men and women released from jail who are U.S. citizens and "off paper"--meaning off probation and parole--can vote in Kansas. But many don't know they can.

Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW
Doug Ballard, with the group JENI, says many formerly incarcerated people don't know they can vote in Kansas.

Doug Ballard is part of the social justice group JENI, which stands for Jobs & Education--Not Incarceration. He says the group has been registering people to vote, including one formally incarcerated man who had not voted in more than three decades.

"You know, we’ve got 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. People are sure that they couldn’t vote, and yet it’s been legal to vote if you are a felon off papers since 1957," Ballard says.

Coordinator Janice Bradley says some who stop by the booth says they don’t plan to vote because they don’t like the candidates.

"But we have every seat in the Legislature that is up this year, and we have more influence at the state and local level," she says.

A paper copy or a camera photo of a birth certificate, U.S. passport or other citizenship document is needed to complete registration. Voter registration is available during Riverfest evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. under the red canopy at Douglas Avenue and Water Street.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.