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Note: This story was updated on May 3 to indicate a ballot was received by Alsobrook but not submitted by jail officials, according to her attorney.

An inmate at Silverdale Detention Center awaiting trial on misdemeanor theft charges will be transported to a polling place Tuesday to cast her vote in the primary election after Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes approved a request filed with the court Monday.

Chattanooga attorney Brandy Spurgin said her client, Constance Kelly Alsobrook, had registered to vote and received a ballot but it was never collected by jail officials to send it in. According to election law, after missing the absentee voting deadline, the only way Alsobrook could cast her vote was to show up at a polling place in person on Tuesday.

Spurgin said she discovered the error after another of her clients, an inmate at Silverdale awaiting trial on homicide charges who asked not to be named in this article, told her two weeks ago he had never been given voter registration papers after requesting them in August.

Spurgin said she began asking all her clients whether they had been able to register or cast votes, and that's when she ran into Alsobrook's problem.

"I plan to keep this issue on my radar, spread the word with other criminal defense attorneys and discuss with each of my clients," Spurgin said via email. "I will also be providing my clients with voter registration applications and absentee ballot applications for future elections and encourage other attorneys to do the same."

Requests to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office seeking information about whether efforts were made to help inmates register or cast their ballots were not returned Monday.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County, Chattanooga mayors sometimes at odds with state lawmakers over 2022 sessions initiative)

Inmates awaiting trial on felony charges as well as those who have been convicted on misdemeanor charges may register and cast their votes, according to Hamilton County Election Commission absentee ballot coordinator Becky Bumgardner.

"They only lose their voting rights if they are convicted of a felony," Bumgardner said in a telephone interview with the Times Free Press.

Absentee ballots are used for inmates since those ballots are meant for people who cannot physically go to their polling places. Inmates who are eligible to vote can request their ballots at their respective detention centers, she said, but all documents must be submitted at least 21 days before election day.

(READ MORE: Time to vote: Election is Tuesday in Hamilton County)

For inmates to cast their ballots, elections commission deputy registrars go to the jail seven days before the election and set up sites where inmates can cast their votes, according to Bumgardner. Those ballots are then mailed to the elections commission's office from the post office nearest the jail, so they can arrive at the commission in time for the count.

In cases like Alsobrook's involving voters who miss their chance to fill out an absentee ballot, they must show up in person on the day of the election, she said.

"Once the deadline has passed, it is out of our hands," Bumgardner said.

(READ MORE: Ballot challenge for Marjorie Taylor Greene started in Walker County, Georgia)

Inmates who have been convicted of felony charges and completed their sentences, as well as their parole period, and have finished paying all their fines and fees may submit documents to have their voting rights reinstated without paying any additional fees.

"It's a simple process. They can request the documents," Bumgardner said. "They don't even need a lawyer."

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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