Voting Laws Cause Fear And Confusion
There’s a consequence of felony disenfranchisement beyond just keeping people off the voting list. These laws can cause fear and confusion. Four years ago Kerry Bird was called before the State Board of Elections in a voter fraud investigation. He stood before the board, its members debating whether they ought to turn his case over to the state’s attorney general.
“It was scary,” Bird said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. What the details were. It was a scary thing. I didn’t know what to expect from that.”
Thinking he was eligible, Bird had voted in elections while he was out of prison, and still serving a sentence.
But election officials didn’t say anything about it until 2014, 10 years after he completed probation, and even longer after Bird says he turned his life around.
In 1989 he was convicted of theft, which he blames on a drug addiction that he broke decades ago.
“It’s a dark part of my life,” Bird said. “It’s something I’d like to put in the bank and forget about it.”
Bird runs the family farm he grew up on in Metter, a rural town about an hour northwest of Savannah.
His case was eventually dismissed by the state board of elections, which is led by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican running for governor, who’s known for zealously investigating voter fraud.