Tags: Report | Millions | Citizens | Denied | Voting | Felonies

Report: Over 6 Million Citizens Denied Voting Rights Because of Felonies

Report: Over 6 Million Citizens Denied Voting Rights Because of Felonies

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By    |   Friday, 07 October 2016 11:30 AM

Over 6 million Americans have been blocked from voting due to "felony disenfranchisement" which includes an excessive number of blacks, according to a Sentencing Project report.

While 1.5 million from those forbidden are from Florida, one in 13 of those restricted are African-Americans, the report said. The study also showed that for black men, the percentage was much higher.

With a law degree and position of a president for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition in Orlando, Desmond Meade, who was a former felon, is not allowed to vote — not even for his spouse, a former State House candidate, The Washington Post reported.

"That was a huge slap in the face for me, because I couldn't even vote for my own wife," Meade said. "I'm reminded that I'm not a full citizen, because I'm being left out of a process that speaks to citizenship more than anything else."

Meade is not the only one going through this discrimination. More than a million African Americans, who are not under confinement, are still being deprived of voting rights.
While fourteen states restore voting rights once prisoners are freed, Maine and Vermont are the only two which allow incarcerated citizens to cast ballots.

Christopher Uggen, a University of Minnesota sociology professor and lead author of the report, believes citizens cannot be deprived of such rights.

"It is in no one's interest to treat these men and women as second-class citizens. Our collective interest is best served by restoring to them the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. We need them working, caring for their families, paying taxes and participating in civic life," said Uggen.

The study also shows that states are blocking more African-Americans and would-be voters more than ever. The report cited figures from 1976, where the number was less than 1.2 million. It rose steeply to 3.3 million in 1996, and further increased to an enormous 6.1 million this year.

According to the report, nine states disenfranchised at least 5 percent of their African American adults in 1980. Latest numbers reveal 23 states have adopted it.

"African American disenfranchisement rates in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia now exceed 20 percent of the adult voting age population. It is clear that disparities in the criminal justice system are linked to disparities in political representation," the report said.

Embargos on former felons are not only limited to voting. For example, Meade has to refrain from practicing law because of his convictions.

"These policies often exert a lifelong adverse impact on the socioeconomic life prospects of African Americans," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, was quoted as saying.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced the Civil Rights Voting Restoration Act last year, which permitted convicts of non-violent offenses to vote in general elections if they were not incarcerated at the time of the vote, according to The Post.

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Over 6 million Americans have been blocked from voting due to "felony disenfranchisement" which includes an excessive number of blacks, according to a Sentencing Project report.
Report, Millions, Citizens, Denied, Voting, Felonies
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2016-30-07
Friday, 07 October 2016 11:30 AM
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