FELON DISENFRANCHISEMENT

Millions of Americans are being robbed of their right to vote
by restrictive laws and fraudulent "voter purge" schemes
 

The United States leads the developed world in mass incarceration and private prison industries. Nationally, an estimated 5.85 million Americans are disenfranchised because of laws that prohibit voting by people with felony convictions, even after they have served their time.

Some states disenfranchise more than 7 percent of their adult citizens.

Over the past two decades, according to the Brennan Center more than 20 states have taken action (legislative or executive) to allow more people with past criminal convictions to vote, vote sooner, or access the right to vote more easily.


Nearly 6 million American citizens are unable vote because of a past criminal conviction.
— The Brennan Center for Justice

FELON RIGHTS NEWS


Florida: A Case Study

Florida has the nation’s highest rate of felony disenfranchisement, with over 1.5 million people and 23 percent of the state’s black population unable to vote due to a felony conviction. That equates to more than 10 percent of the state’s voting-age population.

Republican leadership in Florida and other states have used felony convictions to purge millions of Americans—many who were not actually felons—from voter rolls.

In 2007, people with felony convictions in Florida  automatically had their voting rights restored after completion of sentence under clemency rules established by then-Governor Charlie Crist.

Crist’s successor, Governor Rick Scott, revoked this policy. Citizens with past criminal convictions must again apply for restoration of their rights, and wait years to do so. Governor Scott's election was defined by use of his multimillion-dollar fortune to run for office, and by accusations of electronic voting machine fraud.


Felon Voter Suppression is Stricter in States with a History of Racism and Stolen Elections


The Facts on Felon Voting Rights

  • 5.85 million citizens have been stripped of the right to vote.
  • 75 percent of the disenfranchised have already returned home to their communities.
  • 13 percent of African American men have lost their right to vote, seven times the national average.
  • Some states disenfranchise more than 7 percent of their adult citizens.
  • The number of disenfranchised has quintupled since 1976.
  • The number of women in prison, is increasing at nearly double the rate for men.
  • More than 1 in 5 African Americans is disenfranchised in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Felon Voter Suppression Is Decisive in American Elections

According to Steven Rosenfeld, if as little as 1 percent of Florida's disenfranchised ex-felons had been allowed to vote in 2000, George W. Bush would not have won.


WHO IS IMPRISONED?


PEOPLE OF COLOR

Felony disenfranchisement is an obstacle to participation in democratic life which is exacerbated by racial disparities in the criminal justice system, resulting in 1 of every 13 African Americans unable to vote.

While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.

According to the Sentencing Project, "1.4 million African American men, or 13% of black men, is disenfranchised, a rate seven-times the national average."


WOMEN

The number of women in prison, a third of whom are incarcerated for drug offenses, is increasing at nearly double the rate for men.

ACTIVISTS AND THOSE WHO RESIST ARREST

The new state calls for felony charges for resisting arrest, if enacted would put millions of additional Americans at risk of disenfranchisement, including nonviolent activists who resist arrest at political protest. 

In New York, NYPD officers appear to be far more likely to file resisting arrest charges against black suspects than white suspects—with dramatic differences in some parts of the city, according to a WNYC Data News analysis of court records.