The Democracy Restoration Act is seeking to bring back voting rights for felons who have been disenfranchised by their offenses.The National Conference of State Legislatures reports
over 5 million Americans who are former felons have restricted voting rights in this country.
That translates to about 1 in every 40 adults. The laws of states vary greatly. Some allow felons to be able to re-gain voting rights immediately upon completion of their sentence. Others require waiting periods or an application for restoration of rights. Many lawmakers are calling for the restoration of voting rights to felons.
VOTE NOW: Should Convicted Felons Be Allowed to Vote?
Here are five quotes from lawmakers on the subject:
"It's the biggest voting rights issue of our day. There may be a million people who are being prevented from voting from having a previous felony conviction. I'll give you an example: I have a friend who, 30 years ago, grew marijuana plants in college. He made a mistake. He still can't vote, and every time he goes to get a job he has to tick a box that says convicted felon. It prevents you from employment. We should be for letting people have the right to vote back, and I think the face of the Republican Party needs to be not about suppressing the vote, but about enhancing the vote. My bill would allow somewhere a million people to get the right to vote back." - Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on Meet the Press, reported by NBC News.
"Apart from being a fundamental democratic right, voting is essential to a formerly incarcerated citizen's rehabilitation. Ex-felons who have been released from prison, and are living in our neighborhoods, are a part of our community. These individuals who have paid their societal debts are unduly barred from being fully re-integrated back into society by being denied the right to vote. These restrictions serve only to further alienate and isolate millions of Americans as they work to regain normality in their lives." - Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
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"I introduced a piece of legislation called the 'Count Every Vote Act.' We heard firsthand from people in Cleveland who had been disenfranchised, all the people who waited for 10 or 12 hours because the precincts they were in only had two voting machines, whereas down the road, in a more affluent and whiter precinct, people could vote in a couple of minutes. We need to end the disparities in resources. We need to have same day voter registration and earlier absentee voting. We need to make it clear that we’d like to try a holiday or a weekend for voting because more people will be able to get off work and actually do it. And we need to end the oppressive ID requirements that are turning people away from the polls and restore the voting rights of ex-felons." - Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in the 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum.
"I am proud of the reforms my administration has undertaken to expand and expedite the rights restoration process and the work my team has done restoring Virginians' voting rights so former offenders can lead successful, productive lives here in the commonwealth." - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, according to The Roanoke Times
, after a new law restored voting rights to some felons in the state, July 2014.
"Delaware now is helping to take the lead in states actually expanding access to the voting booth. So many states across the country are suppressing the right to vote. This state is doing something different." - Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, talking about a 2013 Delaware decision to restore voting rights to non-violent felons, according to Delaware State News.
VOTE NOW: Do You Think Convicted Felons Should Be Allowed to Vote?
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