Voter suppression has emerged as an controversial subtext of the most recent five presidential election cycles. Conceptually, voter suppression conjures up our nation’s darkest days of racial segregation, its forms and extent of considerable discussion in political and civil rights circles, today. Tension surrounding this topic escalated after the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling that enabled nine previously supervised states to revise elections law without federal oversights and approval. The decision effectively struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
However, an Oct. 2016 report by The Sentencing Project casts light on arguably the most widespread source of Americans losing their right to participate in our nation’s most basic institution. Researcher Christopher Uggen, Ryan Larson, and Sarah Shannon analyzed the impact of “felony disenfranchisement”; laws that prohibit convicted felons from casting ballots. Namely:
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.
The full report is presented below with permission granted by The Sentencing Project:
Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration. For more on The Sentencing Project and/or other publications, visit www.sentencingproject.org.