OP-ED: Let’s ensure KY mothers like me have a second chance – to regain voting rights, have a voice in children’s future

May 11, 2024 | 12:01 am

Updated May 10, 2024 | 3:41 pm

This is a paid release.

by Kim George – Community Organizer, Advocacy Based on Lived Experience (ABLE)

Can you begin to imagine how disheartening it is to be a mom and be told you are not worthy of having a voice in your child’s future? Can you imagine being told that you have no rights to be involved in making decisions about your child’s education, health, and overall well-being because at some point in the past you made a bad decision?

Having the right to vote allows me the opportunity to use my experience and voice to help shape my child’s future, and too many other Kentuckians don’t have that right due to a past felony conviction.

The current law in Kentucky that strips its citizens of their right to vote was put into place in 1891. Let’s take a moment and think about how different our lives are today. While we have made progress in areas such as civil rights, and gender equality, we have made no progress to restore everyone’s right to vote.

Excluding a parent from having a vote that will impact their child’s future because of past mistakes is not productive or fair. It is important to create a judgment-free environment where all parents are encouraged and supported to be active participants in their child’s future.

Teaching our children about forgiveness, second chances, and the importance of redemption is crucial. By restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions in their past after they have served their time, we are sending a powerful message to our youth that everyone deserves a chance to move past their mistake and be given a fresh start.

Ultimately, by showing our children that a mistake does not have to define someone for the rest of their life, we are instilling values of forgiveness, understanding, and empathy. Restoring voting rights is not only a matter of fairness and justice but also a way to inspire hope and belief in the power of second chances for all individuals.

I may not have all the answers or be perfect, but I am committed to learning and growing from my past mistakes. I believe in the power of forgiveness and second chances, and I hope to show my children that it is never too late to make positive changes and improve oneself. I believe that every parent should be given the opportunity to get it right and be able to use their voice at the ballot box.

I know this will be hard for some people to understand, but I am actually grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the person they have shaped me into becoming today. I am committed to using my experiences and knowledge to help empower and uplift those around me, especially those who may be facing similar challenges. I hope to inspire others to overcome their obstacles and reach their full potential.

Together, we can create a stronger, more inclusive community where everyone feels valued and supported. As Kentuckians, we value our freedoms, especially the right to vote. This shapes our lives. Yet, some with felony convictions lose this right forever, which harms our community.

We all make mistakes, but no one should pay for life. Let’s support our fellow Kentuckians in regaining their right to vote and creating a better state for everyone.

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Kim George is a Paducah resident, former registered nurse, mom, person in long term recovery, and was formerly incarcerated. She has been afforded opportunities to rebuild her life and had her voting rights restored per Governor Beshear’s 2019 executive order. Today, she is an advocate for others, who — like her — deserve a chance to get it right.

May 11, 2024 | 12:01 am

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