Voting & Politics with a Criminal Record

September 20, 2022

Carl Fields for The Community See full video here.

Voting & Politics with a Criminal Record, Special Issue, July 2022
By The Community

For this project, we also did a voter engagement video (which is on our Youtube Channel and our website – the in which we interviewed people from communities where more people vote during elections. We wanted to show the attitude in these areas towards voting that results in them being more politically involved to get more resources for their communities. As expected, the people we interviewed from areas with higher voter turnout took their ability to vote as a given, like they never even thought about not being able to vote. It was ingrained in them. Many communities and populations are raised believing voting is pointless and/or not for them. The communities and groups that do vote benefit from this even more then because their opinions and candidates have less pushback from and less need to compromise with the opinions and candidates that would or do best represent communities and grounds that don’t or can’t vote. Furthermore, a Political Science Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Paru Shah who we interviewed made a great point: if powerful wealthy people want to make it harder or impossible for certain people to vote, that speaks volumes about the significance of voting. 

I’ve long been indifferent toward voting because of, one, how corrupt and money-driven the system is, and two, I find more value in community work and making connections about important topics, like addressing the criminal justice system. Plus, I can’t vote until 2035. But this voter engagement project helped me better understand the situation. Not everyone has the time or ability to get involved at the level that I and so many other grassroots humanizers do. We are just parts in this work and success requires the collective. having decision-makers in office who will listen and act when we organize and advocate requires that members of the communities we represent get out and vote. Of course, they will bot be ideal or, oftentimes, even close to what we actually want in leaders and representatives. Just as our own lives are a constant balance of pros and cons and compromise, who we vote for is a constant balance as well. And the same way we eat food when the options aren’t great so we don’t starve, we are contributing to starving communities when we pass up our right to vote due to uninspiring candidates. Plus getting involved in the process and getting out to vote will put us in position to get better candidates on the ballot and become a voice that cannot be taken for granter or ignored any longer. So those of us engaged in community and policy change work and those of us who can’t vote need those who can to vote and make that vote have a greater impact by simply letter others in their lives they voted and why. It’s a small thing we can do together for a potentially huge impact. In fact, this combination of law change and community empowerment is the only way things will sustainably improve. 

Keep moving forward.

Contact Us:, [email protected]
The Community
PO Box 100392
Milwaukee, WI 53210

The Community’s Mission: Our mission is to foster the full potential of people with criminal records through Pre-entry and showcasing their successes, humanity and agency through Correcting the Narrative.

With funding from Wisconsin Voices, we sent the above newsletter in to all 20,000 people incarcerated in the Wisconsin prison system as a special edition to let them know about their voting rights, how to vote when they become eligible, why voting is important, how they can run for office, and dozens of resources around voting for them to use. And the voter engagement video addresses why people with criminal records should vote. Thank you to Carl Fields and Dr. Paru Shah for agreeing to participate.