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Free the Vote

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Next Phase of the Voting Rights Movement: Freeing the Vote for People with Felony Convictions
Securing the right to vote for the disfranchised—persons who have lost their voting rights as a result of a felony conviction—is widely recognized as the next phase of the voting rights movement. Nationwide, more than 5.3 million Americans who have been convicted of a felony are denied access to the one fundamental right that is the foundation of all other rights. Only Maine and Vermont do not restrict voting on the basis of a felony conviction, and allow inmates to vote from prison by absentee ballot.

Nearly 2 million, or 38%, of the disfranchised are African-Americans. A staggering 13% of all African-American men in this country—and in some states up to one-third of the entire African-American male population—are denied the right to vote. Given current rates of incarceration, an astonishing one in three of the next generation of Black men will be disfranchised at some point during their lifetime.