America's Disenfranchised: Excluded From Voting

Moving Ideas has a new article in their voter protection series, Disenfranchised in America, highlighting segments of our society that regularly are denied the right to vote: students, DC citizens, felons, and non-citizens.

There are 4.7 million adults in the U.S. who are denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia deny felons the right to vote at some point, while 7 states permanently disenfranchise felons and 7 more permanently disenfranchise certain felons. Only Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote even while they are in prison. The “war on drugs” has led to a large population of African Americans being convicted of felony drug crimes resulting in 1.4 million, or 1 in 13, African Americans who are disenfranchised due to felony convictions. Even in those states where rights are restored to felons who have paid their debt to society, election officials and parole officers often misinform felons about their rights. There are a total of 9 million ex-felons, many whom do not know they have the right to vote.

Right to Vote is a campaign to restore the right to vote to felons. Their mission:

The mission of the Right to Vote Campaign is to remove barriers to voting faced by people with felony convictions, so they may freely participate in the democratic process. To achieve this goal, we aim to change policies, practices and perceptions concerning felony disfranchisement at the local, state and national levels.

What they're doing:

The Campaign is using one or more of these strategies — clemency assistance, voter registration, public education, legislative advocacy and litigation to:

  • Remove barriers to voting for citizens with felony convictions;
  • Mobilize eligible people with felony convictions to vote, and mobilize currently ineligible persons in permanent disfranchisement states to apply to have their voting rights restored;
  • Encourage communities disproportionately affected by the loss of votes to become involved in the Campaign, and in doing so, demonstrate that the restoration of voting rights can empower marginalized communities;
  • Raise public awareness about the issue of felony disfranchisement;
    Contribute to the building of an effective and inclusive democracy;

Get involved.

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