*Did you know that approximately 2.5% of Americans, which amounts to a voter base of roughly 6.1 million people, are disenfranchised simply due to their minor felony convictions? This also includes those people who have served their time and are now on parole or their probationary period.
There are also some states where regaining this right to vote was found to be so onerous that some people were even barred from voting for the rest of their lives! These states include Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, and Florida, and due to this lifetime ban, more than 300,000 individuals have been disenfranchised. This was a 68% increase from the numbers that had been recorded in 2006!
The problem, however, is that this burden of disenfranchisement due to past felonies does not equally fall on every American. These laws seem to be tipped disproportionately towards black people and would you guess why? Well, what other than the fact that they are being so over-represented by the criminal justice system in America. It was found that 1 in every 13 black Americans have lost their right to vote due their convictions in the past. This ratio is somewhat close to 4 times the ratio of other communities in America.
This trend was seen to be continually on the rise in 2018 and thankfully some necessary actions had been taken by the Brennan Center of Justice. Somewhere in January, Virginia, New Jersey, Nebraska, Mississippi, Florida, Arizona, and Alabama had seen some bills being introduced in order to restore the voting rights of these people.
Today, even when these laws exist, black people who constitute up to 38% of the American population have had a huge proportion of their voting rights stripped off. The disenfranchised African-American people comprise of 13% of the American population – and even if this sounds like a miniscule number, it can make a huge difference.
While literacy tests and poll taxes have been abolished due to the signing of the Voting Rights Act, the laws for felony disenfranchisement continue to remain in the books for 48 states. This is the state of America as it steadily grapples with racial oppression and its noticeable impact on mass incarceration.
Only those states that are working very hard to restore these voting rights for people with past conviction seem to be progressing in the right direction. God knows when they’ll pull the rest of America along with them.