He's Still Unable To Vote Because Of This Meeting A Century Ago

roll of stickers that say voted on them
Zain Murdock
May 14, 2022

In 1890 Mississippi, officials plotted at a convention to “exclude the Negro” from voting. And because of their mission, in 2022, 67-year-old Roy Harness may NEVER be able to vote.

After starting work as a structural builder in the 1970s, another crew member offered him cocaine to stay awake and work long hours. That turned into an addiction, then debt to drug dealers. Then, Harness spent about two years in prison for a forgery conviction in 1986. 

And in 2013, he tried to register to vote – and that’s when that forgery came back to haunt him.

In Mississippi, less than 1% of applications from incarcerated people to have their voting rights restored were approved in 2021. 

Over half of the 235,152 people who can’t vote in the state because of a felony are Black. Almost 16% of ALL voting-age Black Mississippians are blocked from voting.

Today, Harness is a lead plaintiff in a federal complaint arguing that the list of “crimes” Mississippi officials created to disqualify voters is racial discrimination.

Harness is a carpenter, Vietnam veteran, and highly-degreed social worker. But you shouldn't have to be a "model citizen" to wield your basic rights. “I’ve served my country, nation … got a degree and [I] still can’t vote,” Harness said. “No matter what you do to prove yourself.”

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