NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Individuals convicted of a felony can't vote while incarcerated, on parole, or on probation in the State of Tennessee, and Terrancé Akins was one of those people — until this week.
Akins will get to vote for the first time after serving 17 years in prison.
When he was 17-years-old, Akins went to prison for especially aggravated robbery.
"I lost my family, I lost my freedom, and then I lost my right to vote," Akins said.
He has started a non-profit called 'Blessed Incorporated' where he helps inner city kids stay out of trouble. It took four years, but now that he is on a steady path, he's excited to be able to vote for the first time.
"It feels great. It feels wonderful," he said.
In Tennessee, voting rights are restored when ex-felons complete their supervised release. Akins hopes his example will help encourage others to re-register to vote.
"They give up on themselves, they give up on their lives, they figure that they can never really amount to anything, but that's not true. You have to believe in yourself and you have to believe that you matter and that your vote matter, and that's one thing that I did, I took the initiative to not just do this for me, but to do it for those that are coming behind me," said Akins.
The voter registration deadline is on Tuesday, you can fill out a form online or sign up in person.
Akins is now renting an apartment in Montgomery County. Early voting there starts Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 1. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.