Category Archives: Voting Rights

Felony Disenfranchisement & Voting.

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A new study conducted by professors Christopher Uggen, Ryan Larson, and Sarah Shannon and released by the Sentencing Project reveals that a record 6.1 million Americans are forbidden to vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes. The number of disenfranchised individuals has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 6.1 million today.

Apparently, the United States remains one of the world’s strictest nations when it comes to denying the right to vote to citizens convicted of crimes. An estimated 6.1 million Americans are forbidden to vote because of “felony disenfranchisement,” or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes.

The study’s key findings include the following:

  • As of 2016, an estimated 6.1 million people are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, a figure that has escalated dramatically in recent decades as the population under criminal justice supervision has increased. There were an estimated 1.17 million people disenfranchised in 1976, 3.34 million in 1996, and 5.85 million in 2010.
  • Approximately 2.5 percent of the total U.S. voting age population – 1 of every 40 adults – is disenfranchised due to a current or previous felony conviction.
  • Individuals who have completed their sentences in the twelve states that disenfranchise people post-sentence make up over 50 percent of the entire disenfranchised population, totaling almost 3.1 million people.
  • Rates of disenfranchisement vary dramatically by state due to broad variations in voting prohibitions. In six states – Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia – more than 7 percent of the adult population is disenfranchised.
  • The state of Florida alone accounts for more than a quarter (27 percent) of the disenfranchised population nationally, and its nearly 1.5 million individuals disenfranchised post-sentence account for nearly half (48 percent) of the national total.
  • One in 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than that of non-African Americans. Over 7.4 percent of the adult African American population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8 percent of the non-African American population.
  • African American disenfranchisement rates also vary significantly by state. In four states – Florida (21 percent), Kentucky (26 percent), Tennessee (21 percent), and Virginia (22 percent) – more than one in five African Americans is disenfranchised.

My opinion? It makes no sense why convicts are prevented from voting if they’ve been sentenced and punished. It’s a terrible violation of civil rights. Period. Please contact my office if you’re a convicted felon who has paid your debt to society and want your voting rights and/or firearms rights restored.

Voting Rights Restored!

Thank you to all who took action on HB 1517!  This important measure will automatically restore the right to vote to citizens who were entangled with the criminal justice system.

Governor Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law on Monday, May 4, 2009.  The new law will reform Washington’s convoluted and unfair system for restoring voting rights.

Washington now becomes the 20th state in the last decade to ease voting restrictions for people with criminal histories who are living, working and raising families in the community.  Our victory is part of a nationwide movement to assure that our democracy reflects the voices of American citizens.

Let freedom ring.

Restore The Right To Vote

In November 2008, more than 3 million people in Washington voted in federal, state, and local elections.  Truly a great year for voter turnout!

Unfortunately, there are more than 167,000 Washington citizens who are stripped of their voting rights because of our state’s unnecessarily complicated system for restoring voting rights to convicted felons.  Poor people and minorities are hit the hardest, with 17& of African Americans and 10% of the voting age Latino population prevented from voting under our current laws.

The right to vote should never be tied to a person’s economic class.  Currently, citizens are prevented from voting until they have repaid all of thie Legal Financial Obligations – fees and other costs associated with their sentence.  Our laws impose a 12% interest rate on these debts!  Many people coming out of the criminal justice system find their debt increasing despite making monthly payments.  This exacerbates the problem, and assures that poor individuals will lose the right to vote permanantly.

Restoring voting rights encourages people to reconnect with their communicities and become good citizens.  Research has shown that people who voted after being released are 50% less likely to reoffend than those who did not vote.

Encourage your legislature to vote “Yes!” to HB 1517 and SB 5534.   Restore the right to vote!

www.getthevoteback.org