Woman allowed to vote after 50 years - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Woman allowed to vote after 50 years


A 67-year-old woman is finally voting for the first time in her life. A mistake nearly 50 years ago cost her freedom to vote. She's been fighting a long hard battle, and her day has finally come. 

La-Verne Gayle lost her right to vote back in the sixties after she stole two dresses from a local department store. She couldn't vote with a felony on her record. Now, she finally can, and she says it feels just as exciting as her wedding day. 

At 67 years old, LaVerne Wilson says there is always a first time for everything. She can't wait for Tuesday - when she gets to exercise her right to vote for the first time in her life.

"Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord," Wilson said.

In 1964, Wilson was convicted of stealing two $20 dresses at a Richmond department store. She was charged with felony, petty larceny and sentenced to a year in the Women's Work Farm in Goochland County. Since then, it's also been tough for Wilson to land a job with a conviction on her record.

"Sometimes taking chances can cost your life. I just thank God this is over with and I can cast my vote," Wilson added.

In late October, Wilson received a letter from the governor's office saying she can finally vote.

"This is like a piece of gold," Wilson added.

Wilson says it would have been impossible without the help of leaders from several organizations including the NAACP and Goodwill.

Even though Ms. Wilson can vote, she's still not allowed to own fire-arms but she's fine with that. Wilson is also looking forward to jury duty - something else she wasn't allowed to participate in previously. The Virginia NAACP says it's registered over 36,000 voters in efforts to restore the right for people to cast their ballots.

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