Felony Disenfranchisement: The Basics

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The right to vote is a fundamental human right, not to be confused with punishment for crime. 

 

But 6.1 million American citizens can't vote due to a felony conviction. 77% are released, and living in their communities.  

 

Florida, which disenfranchises 10.4% of its entire adult population, or 1.6 million citizens, is in a class by itself. It disenfranchises for life, for all felonies. 

 

Both the Geneva Convention and the UN Declaration of Human Rights both define VOTING as a fundamental human right.  

Almost half of European countries allow incarcerated people to vote, either within prison or by absentee ballot.  Courts in Canada, Israel and South Africa have ruled that any conviction-based restriction of voting rights is unconstitutional.  But only two U.S. states, VT and ME, allow people in prison to vote.


In the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed."  Isn't every citizen governed?  Despite this, our Constitution allows States to restrict the franchise.

From 5 in 1970, 23 states now restrict more than 5% of their entire adult population.  
The top 7: Alabama, 7.6% of its entire adult population; Virginia, 7.8%; Tennessee, 8.3%; Kentucky 9.1%; Mississippi 9.6%, and…

 

One quarter of all U.S. citizens who are disenfranchised post-release, due to a felony conviction, live in Florida.  That's why Florida is one of our four most important projects. 

 

Growth in Felony Disenfranchisement:

1.7M in 1976 vs. 6.1M today

Felony chart 1

Felony Disenfranchisement
by State

Felony map

LEARN MORE ABOUT POST-CONVICTION VOTING RIGHTS