Home National news Locked out – millions of voters disenfranchised ahead of midterm elections

Locked out – millions of voters disenfranchised ahead of midterm elections

With the midterm election just days away, the District of Columbia-based think tank, The Sentencing Project, has released a new report which found that 4.6 million people can’t vote because of felony convictions.

Researchers pointed out that the number amounts to one in every 50 adults, with three out of four disenfranchised living in their communities, having completed their sentences or remaining supervised while on probation or parole.

“While many states have taken steps to expand the right to vote to people with felony convictions, this report makes it clear that millions of our citizens will remain voiceless in the upcoming midterms,” Amy Fettig, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said in a news release.

“Felony disenfranchisement is just the latest in a long line of attempts to restrict ballot access, just like poll taxes, literacy tests, and property requirements were used in the past. It is time for our country to guarantee the right to vote for people with felony convictions.”

The report, ‘Locked Out 2022,’ updates and expands upon 20 years of work chronicling the scope and distribution of felony disenfranchisement in the United States.

Researchers found that in three states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee) more than eight percent of the adult population, one of every 13 adults, is disenfranchised.

Additionally, Florida remains the nation’s disenfranchisement leader in absolute numbers, with over 1.1 million people currently banned from voting, often because they cannot afford to pay court-ordered monetary sanctions.

The Sentencing Project found an estimated 934,500 Floridians who have completed their sentences remain disenfranchised, despite a 2018 ballot referendum that promised to restore their voting rights.

Further, one in 19 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate 3.5 times that of non-African Americans.

Among the adult African American population, states have disenfranchised 5.3%, compared to 1.5% of the adult non-African American population, researchers reported.

Also, more than one in 10 African American adults have fallen victim to disenfranchisement in eight states: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The researchers noted that data on ethnicity in correctional populations are unevenly reported and undercounted in some states. Still, a conservative estimate is that at least 506,000 Latinx Americans, or 1.7% of the voting-eligible population, are disenfranchised.

Approximately one million women are disenfranchised, comprising over one-fifth of the total disenfranchised population.

“Despite state-level reforms and the hard work of voting rights advocates, millions of Americans remain disenfranchised, representing two percent of the voting-eligible population,” said Christopher Uggen, the report’s co-author.

“In this election year, the question of specific voting restrictions, the broader issue of voter suppression, and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities should be front and center on the public agenda.”

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