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Felony Disenfranchisement Reforms in 23 States Restored Voting Rights to 1.4 Million People

Sentencing Project: “As Florida voters consider an Election Day initiative to end the state’s lifetime ban on voting for citizens with a felony record, a new report from The Sentencing Project finds that since 1997 changes to state felony disenfranchisement laws across the country have restored voting rights to 1.4 million people.

Expanding the Vote: Two Decades of Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, by Morgan McLeod, Communications Manager, found that 23 states have eased voting restrictions for people with felony convictions. The state changes have come about through various mechanisms, including legislative reform, executive action, and a ballot initiative. Reforms highlighted in the report include:

  • Alabama scaled back the number of crimes subject to disenfranchisement, impacting 76,000 people.
  • California restored voting rights to certain categories of people on community supervision and to those with felony convictions incarcerated in jail, impacting 95,000 people.
  • Maryland expanded voting rights to individuals on probation and parole, impacting 40,000 people.
  • Virginia’s former-Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to 173,000 people.

While these policy changes represent national momentum for reform of restrictive voting rights laws, more than 6 million citizens are still prohibited from voting due to a felony conviction. Nearly 4.7 million are not incarcerated but live in one of 34 states that prohibit voting by people on probation, parole, or who have completed their sentence. Florida accounts for more than a quarter of the disenfranchised population nationally, and nearly half of the post-sentence disenfranchised population…”

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