Navigation

Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Felons

Overview

Currently one in forty-one Americans have lost their voting rights because of a criminal conviction.  That is over 5 million people who are denied the right to vote.  Of those, over 2 million have completed their sentence of imprisonment, parole, or probation.  These statistics are even more staggering in an international perspective. While the US has only 5% of the world's population, it has almost 50% of those who are prevented from voting by a criminal conviction.  This is the product both of our broad disenfranchisement rules and our exploded criminal justice system.  The racial and ethnic inequity of felon disenfranchisement is striking.  One in eight black men are disenfranchised by these laws, a rate seven times the national average.  In some states it is one in four.

Over 60% of Americans support restoring the right to vote after release from prison, and a similar number think that the right to vote is an important factor in a person's successful reintegration after prison.  This view is shared by several law enforcement organizations.  The American Correctional Association, made up largely of professionals in the criminal justice field, has passed a resolution stating that restoring voting rights is critical to reintegration of ex-prisoners into public life: “[D]isenfranchisement laws work against the successful reentry of offenders as responsible, productive citizens into the community.”

The Sentencing Project — Felony Disenfranchisement
Brennan Center for Justice — Voting After Criminal Conviction
ACLU — Felon Enfranchisement
Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza — Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy