With the state primary election less than a month away, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced the preliminary results of an ongoing effort to help enhance civic participation amongst returning citizens.
Between November 4, 2019 and August 4, 2020, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office facilitated 119 voter registrations involving individuals preparing to leave the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. Of that total, approximately 90 percent indicated they were not registered – or did not believe they were registered – prior to their incarceration.
“When most people think about re-entry, they immediately – and rightly – focus on the importance of housing, employment, behavioral healthcare and family reintegration,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “But what is often overlooked, is the critical importance of ensuring individuals are able to actively and productively participate in the civic life of the communities they are returning to. They must be able to advocate for laws, policies and programs that will improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones.”
According to MSO Reintegration Coordinator Jackie Santangelo, the vast majority of those who were registered over the past eight months did not realize they would be eligible to vote upon release. Several indicated they had never voted before.
“Through simple one-on-one conversations, Jackie has not only helped these individuals register, but also educated them about the process and why their votes matter,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “These conversations can – and have – almost become mini civics lessons.”
In addition to the registrations facilitated as part of reentry, the MSO is also working to support eligible incarcerated individuals who wish to cast absentee ballots in the upcoming election cycle.
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has also previously worked with representatives of the League of Women Voters (LWV) to host voter education sessions.