From the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The Sentencing Project, “Free The Vote“- a succinct and important summary of the felony disenfranchisement issue. The NAACP, because felony disenfranchisement laws have a disproportionate impact on African Americans at the state level. An estimated 6.1 million Americans who have been convicted of a felony are denied the right to vote, and 1 in 13 African Americans of voting age are disenfranchised because of a felony conviction, more than four times the rate of non-Black Americans. Put another way, more than 7.4% of the Black American adult population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8% of the non-Black population. Other facts and figures from the report: –
- Only Maine and Vermont do not restrict voting on the basis of a felony conviction—and allow individuals to continue to exercise the right to vote from prison by absentee ballot.
- In Florida, more people with felony convictions are disenfranchised than in any other state, with black disenfranchisement rates exceeding a fifth (21%) of the adult black voting age population. Similar data comes out of other states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
- Prison-based gerrymandering exacerbates the negative effects of felony disenfranchisement by counting incarcerated people as residents of largely white rural areas where prisons are predominately located. The racial disparities in incarceration thus result in greater political influence and increased economic resources for the largely white rural areas, and a corresponding loss of resources to the urban communities from which incarcerated people of color generally reside.