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Chart: the politics of the felon vote

By on July 14, 2012

Eliza Shapiro analyzes a new report (PDF) on felon and ex-felon disenfranchisement:

Statistics show that felon disenfranchisement disproportionately affect African-Americans, with 7.7% of the total African-American population denied the vote as a result, according to the Sentencing Project. That’s 1 out of every 13 black Americans.

[Lee Rowland, counsel for the NYU Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program] says stricter felon disenfranchisement laws are often made as a “political calculations” that “skew the electorate.” Four million of the 5.85 million disenfranchised are currently out of prison, some on probation and parole. “The murderer behind bars,” waiting to cast his vote, “is an atypical case,” says Christopher Uggen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the Sentencing Project report. The group’s director, Marc Mauer, estimates that half of the convicted felons in prison are serving time for a violent offense and the other half for a property or drug crime.

James Ridgeway and Jean Casella add:

In three states—Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, at least 1 in 5 black Americans will be out of luck come Election Day. In the cases of Florida and Virginia, the numbers are sizeable enough to change the outcome in November. As Desmond Meade of the nonprofit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition put it to us last week: If these people were able to vote, “Florida would no longer be a swing state.”

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