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.
To date in 2015, lawmakers in 24 states have proposed at least 52 bills that threaten voting
rights, while lawmakers in 36 states have proposed to improve election administration in some way... Read more