Ending Felony Disenfranchisement
The story of American democracy is often told as the steady expansion of voting rights, but history has not yet caught up with one group: people with past felony convictions. Citizens with felony convictions are prohibited from voting, either permanently or temporarily, in all but two states.
This means that an estimated 5.8 million Americans are prevented from participating in American democracy. These are disproportionately Americans of color, from the very disenfranchised communities that most need to have a voice in the democratic process.
Fair and consistent felony re-enfranchisement laws can contribute to the rehabilitation process, reduce the harmful impact of disenfranchisement on low-income and minority communities, and foster a sense of community for those who feel disconnected and unfairly excluded from civic participation. Priority must be given to developing a nationwide policy that allows for reinstatement of voting rights, and educating former offenders regarding restoration procedures.
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The first month of this election year has already seen a concerted and coordinated movement to roll back voting rights across the country. These legislative trends, which could have a powerful impact on turnout in the 2012 election and beyond, are summarized in a new report released Monday from Project Vote. Read more
Courtesy of Project Vote, here is a rundown of some of the state legislation being introduced that will improve, rather than hinder, access to the polls: Read more
The Virginia Senate passed one measure, and defeated another, that would give the legislature constitutional power to restore voting rights to non-violent felons who lost them due to criminal convictions. Read more