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'Project Orange' helps Harris County inmates register to vote

‘Project Orange' puts volunteers inside the jail who help eligible inmates register to vote and sign up for a mail-in ballot.

HOUSTON — A group of volunteers spent about four hours inside Harris County Jail this Saturday, registering inmates to vote.

Their mission is called "Project Orange." It was started three years ago by Houston Justice, and so far, it has helped 2,500 inmates register to vote.

In two public service announcements, Houston rappers Bun B and Trae tha Truth spoke to inmates at Harris County Jail, telling them to vote.

“We want everybody who’s incarcerated know that we haven’t forgotten about them," Bun B said in the PSA.

“Many of them get very, very excited that they are able to actually register to vote. They’re kind of surprised that they are allowed to do that," said Tina Kingshill, Houston Justice coordinating director.

Kingshill said Project Orange puts volunteers inside the jail who help eligible inmates register to vote and sign up for a mail-in ballot.

In Texas, inmates can vote unless they’re currently serving a sentence.

“A lot of these people, up to 60 to 70 percent of them, haven’t even been convicted of a crime yet. They’re waiting for their trial date," Kingshill said.

But Kingshill said when they went Saturday, COVID-19 made their mission a little harder.

“There are quite a few areas under quarantine at the moment, so we did not have access to quite a few pods," Kingshill said.

She said today, they registered about 50 inmates: only a quarter of what they’re used to.

“Of course they all realize that this is a big election coming up, so there was enthusiasm for the ones that we got to see," Kingshill said.

But they’ll go back a few more times before the election, because incarcerated or not, it’s their right, and Project Orange is helping them exercise it.

“There’s a connection to the community, and it helps them feel part of something," Kingshill said.

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