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Can Former Inmates Vote?

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As the infographs presented by PrisonPath show below, the United States, through state laws, prohibits approximately 5.85 million Americans with felony convictions (or individuals on parole or probation) from voting. If our disenfranchised were citizens of Australia, Spain, France, Ireland or Germany, they would have the freedom to vote.

Florida leads the nation in disenfranchising felons, especially African Americans. In 2010, about 520,500 African Americans — 23 percent of the state’s black voting age population — could not vote because of a felony conviction, according to The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based criminal justice reform group.

An estimated 5.85 million felons across the country could not vote in 2010, the last year for which The Sentencing Project has data.

The Maryland legislature recently voted against prohibiting this basic freedom. The Maryland legislature voted against Governor Hogan’s veto allowing felons to vote while on parole or probation. The legislators voted in favor to restore this basic constitutional right because research proved that civic participation reduced recidivism. The American Probation and Parole Association told the Maryland legislature that “civic participation was crucial to help people become law-abiding citizens.”

It is estimated that 40,000 Maryland citizens including this author will now be able to vote again.

Virginia was one of four states that prohibited forever the right for a former felon to vote. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order in April that allowed 206,000 ex-offenders the right to vote again in Virginia. In July, the state’s highest court (4-3 ruling), stated that the state constitution, did not allow Gov.McAuliffe the authority to issue a blanket executive order for mass restoration of voting rights, but recognized his authority to grant voter restoration only on an individual basis. Gov.McAuliffe has promised to restore voting rights one by one.

Disenfranchised Voters: Do Felons Have the Right to Vote?

SOURCES: ProCon.org, American Civil Liberties Union

If we really want our returning citizens to re-enter society, we need to restore their right to vote.

By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com

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