Ever wonder what the conselfishservative, Reich Wing, Gods Own Party, fools would say about felony disenfranchisement, which is a fancy way of saying ex-felons who can’t vote, if the prisons of AmeriKKKa were full of skin head, white supremacist, KKK members, instead of People Of Color….when it came to restoring ex-felons voting rights? I say this because AmeriKKKan prisons are chock full of People Of Color and they vote Democratic, when they bother to vote at all…..or if they could vote at all.
The TeaTardedRepubliCANT Pseudo-Freudian, Psycho-Sexual, Pro-caucasian, Pro-Racist, Anti-LGBTQA1, Anti-Feminist, Reich Wing GOPretender Conselfishservative, NRA-Gun Loving, Nut Bag, bottom feeding, racist, ass backwards, white supremacists, Koch Brothers & A.L.E.C. controlled morons, greedy, wealthy, caucasian, special interest groups, asshole Party Members realize most of the felons in AmeriKKKan prisons don’t or won’t vote for the TeaTardedRepubliCANT party. Keeping the nearly 5.8 MILLION locked up felons off the public voting rolls helps The GOPukes. If these 5.8 MILLION felons were RepubliCANT voters, there would be no such thing as…..
Felony disenfranchisement is excluding people otherwise eligible to vote from voting (known as disfranchisement) due to conviction of a criminal offence. Jurisdictions vary in whether they make such disfranchisement permanent, or restore suffrage after a person has served a sentence, or completed parole or probation. Affected individuals suffer “collateral consequences” including loss of access to jobs, housing, and other facilities.
Opponents have argued that this disfranchisement restricts and conflicts with principles of universal suffrage. This can affect civic and communal participation in general.
In Western countries, felony disfranchisement can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman traditions: disfranchisement was commonly imposed as part of the punishment on those convicted of “infamous” crimes as part of their “civil death“, whereby these persons would lose all rights and claim to property. Most medieval common law jurisdictions developed punishments that provided for some form of exclusion from the community for felons, ranging from execution on sight to exclusion from community processes.
Contemporary practice by country
The United States is among the strictest nations in the world when it comes to denying the vote to those who have felony convictions on their record.
In the US, the constitution implicitly permits the states to adopt rules about disenfranchisement “for participation in rebellion, or other crime”, by the fourteenth amendment, section 2. It is up to the states to decide which crimes could be ground for disenfranchisement, and they are not formally bound to restrict this to felonies; however, in most cases, they do.
In 2008 over 5.3 million people in the United States were denied the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement. Approximately thirteen percent of the United States’ population is African American, yet African Americans make up thirty-eight percent of the American prison population. Slightly more than fifteen percent of the United States population is Hispanic, while twenty percent of the prison population is Hispanic. People who are felons are disproportionately people of color. In the United States, felony disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect communities of color as “they are disproportionately arrested, convicted, and subsequently denied the right to vote”. Research has shown that as much as 10 percent of the population in some minority communities in the USA is unable to vote, as a result of felon disenfranchisement.
In the national elections 2012, all the various state felony disenfranchisement laws added together blocked an estimated record number of 5.85 million Americans from voting, up from 1.2 million in 1976. This comprised 2.5% of the potential voters in general; and included 8% of the potential African American voters. The state with the highest amount of disenfranchised people were Florida, with 1.5 million disenfranchised, including more than a fifth of potential African American voters.
Felony disenfranchisement was a topic of debate during the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Rick Santorum argued for the restoration of voting rights for ex-offenders. Santorum’s position was attacked and distorted by Mitt Romney, who alleged that Santorum supported voting rights for offenders while incarcerated rather than Santorum’s stated position of restoring voting rights only after the completion of sentence, probation and parole. President Barack Obama supports voting rights for ex-offenders.
In the years 1997 to 2008, there was a trend to lift the disenfranchisement restrictions, or simplify the procedures for applying for the restoration of civil rights for people who had fulfilled their punishments for felonies; and as a consequence, in 2008, more than a half million people had the right to vote, but would have been disenfranchised under the older rules. As of 2010, only Kentucky and Virginia continued to impose a lifelong denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record, absent some extraordinary intervention by the Governor or state legislature. However, in Kentucky, a felon’s rights can be restored after the completion of a restoration process to regain civil rights. Since then, more severe disenfranchise rules have came into effect in several states.
In 2007 Florida moved to restore voting rights to convicted felons. In March 2011, however, Republican Governor Rick Scott reversed the 2007 reforms, making Florida the state with the most punitive law in terms of disenfranchising citizens with past felony convictions. In July 2005, Democratic Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack issued an executive order restoring the right to vote for all persons who have completed supervision. On October 31, 2005, Iowa’s Supreme Court upheld mass re-enfranchisement of convicted felons. However, on his inauguration day, January 14, 2011, Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad reversed Vilsack’s executive order. Nine other states disenfranchise felons for various lengths of time following their conviction. Except for Maine and Vermont, every state prohibits felons from voting while in prison.
Unlike most laws that burden the right of citizens to vote based on some form of social status, felony disenfranchisement laws have been held to be constitutional. InRichardson v. Ramirez (1974), the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of felon disenfranchisement statutes, finding that the practice did not deny equal protection to disenfranchised voters. The Court looked to Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which proclaims that States which deny the vote to male citizens, except on the basis of “participation of rebellion, or other crime”, will suffer a reduction in representation. Based on this language, the Court found that this amounted to an “affirmative sanction” of the practice of felon disenfranchisement, and the 14th Amendment could not prohibit in one section that which is expressly authorized in another.
But, critics of the practice argue that Section 2 of the 14th Amendment allows, but does not represent an endorsement of, felony disenfranchisement statutes as constitutional in light of the equal protection clause and is limited only to the issue of reduced representation. The Court ruled in Hunter v. Underwood 471 U.S. 222, 232 (1985) that a state’s crime disenfranchisement provision will violate Equal Protection if it can be demonstrated that the provision, as enacted, had “both [an] impermissible racial motivation and racially discriminatory impact.” (The law in question also disenfranchised people convicted of vagrancy, adultery, and any misdemeanor “involving moral turpitude”; the test case were two people being disenfranchised for presenting invalid checks, which the state authorities had found to be morally turpit behavior.) A felony disenfranchisement law, which on its face is indiscriminate in nature, cannot be invalidated by the Supreme Court unless its enforcement is proven to racially discriminate and to have been enacted with racially discriminatory animus.
Restoration of voting rights for people who are ex-offenders varies across the United States. Primary classification of voting rights include:
Maine and Vermont are the only states with unrestricted voting rights for people who are felons. Both states allow the person to vote during incarceration, via absentee ballot and after terms of conviction end.
Ends after release
In thirteen states and the District of Columbia, disenfranchisement ends after incarceration is complete.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Ends after parole
In four states, disenfranchisement ends after incarceration and parole (if any) is complete.
Ends after probation
Twenty states require not only that incarceration/parole if any are complete but also that
any probation sentence (which is often an alternative to incarceration) is complete.
- Nebraska (Two years after completion of above term. Treason convicts permanently lose the right to vote.)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia* (If you have willfully failed to make three payments in a 12 month
- period on legal financial obligations, the prosecutor can request the court to revoke your voting rights)
Eight states have laws that vary with the detail of the crime. These laws restore voting rights to some offenders on the completion of incarceration, parole, and probation. Other offenders must make an individual petition that could be denied.
- Alabama – A person convicted of a felony loses the ability to vote if the felony involves moral turpitude. The state Attorney General and courts have decided this for individual crimes. If a convicted person loses the ability to vote, he can petition to have it restored by a pardon or by a certificate of eligibility. A certificate of eligibility cannot be issued to a person convicted of a number of crimes having to do with sexual assault or abuse, including sodomy.
- Arizona. Rights are restored to first-time felony offenders. Others must petition.
- Delaware – Depending on the crime, a convicted felon either regains the right to vote after completion of their sentence or cannot regain the right to vote except through a pardon.
- Mississippi – A convicted person loses suffrage for numerous crimes identified in the state constitution, Section 241 (see note). The list is given below. Suffrage can be restored to an individual by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. The crimes that disqualify a person from voting are given in Section 241 of the state constitution as:
- Nevada– First time and non-violent offenders all others may, “petition a court of competent jurisdiction for an order granting the restoration of his or her civil rights”
- Tennessee – A person who is convicted of certain felonies may not regain voting rights except through pardon. These include: murder, rape, treason, and voting fraud. For a person convicted of a lesser felony, disenfranchisement ends after terms of incarceration, completion of parole, and completion of probation. In addition, the person must pay “Any court order restitution paid; current in the payment of any child support obligations; and/or Any court ordered court costs paid”. The ex-offender must either obtain a court order restoring their right to vote or complete the certificate of restoration of voting rights.
- Virginia– As of May 29, 2013, it is a policy of the governor that a person convicted of a non-violent felony regains voting rights after the end of incarceration, parole, and probation. Offenders with “violent/more serious” felonies must appeal to the governor five years after the end of completing the sentence. Before appealing, they must satisfy several conditions:
- “Free from any sentence served or supervised probation and parole for a minimum of two years for a non-violent offense or five years for a violent felony or drug distribution, drug manufacturing offense, any crimes against a minor, or an election law offense.”
- “Has paid all court costs, fines, penalties and restitution and have no felony or misdemeanor charges pending; not have had a DWI in the five years immediately preceding the application.”
- Not have any misdemeanor convictions and/or pending criminal charges 2 years preceding the application for non-violent felonies or five years for a violent felony or drug distribution, drug manufacturing offense, any crimes against a minor, or an election law offense.
- Wyoming – A person convicted of a felony can, after serving the full sentence including any probation and parole, apply to the state governor to have suffrage restored. Since July 1, 2003, first-time, non-violent offenders have to wait five years before applying to the state parole board for restoration of suffrage. The parole board has the discretion to decide whether to reinstate rights on an individual basis.
Individual petitions require
Three states require individual petition for all offenses;
- Florida – Voting rights are restored by the Florida Board of Executive Clemency. Less serious crimes do not require a hearing with the clemency board. In those cases, disenfranchisement ends after it has been five years after completion of terms of incarceration, completion of parole and completion of probation. An application must be submitted to the court. For those with serious crimes, after seven years, the Florida Executive Clemency Board will decide whether or not to restore voting rights after receiving an application from the ex-offender.
- Kentucky – Only the governor can reinstate Civil Rights. The ex-offender must complete “Application for Restoration of Civil Rights”. Then it is at the governor’s discretion to restore voting rights.
Felony conviction thresholds affected by inflation
Various property crimes can have absolute dollar amount thresholds. For example, in Massachusetts under penalties specified in MGL Chap. 266: Sec. 127,a prosecution for malicious destruction of property can result in a felony conviction if the dollar amount of damage exceeds $250.
Holder Urges 11 States To Restore Voting Rights Of Former Felons
Published on Feb 18, 2014
Holder Urges 11 States To Restore Voting Rights Of Former Felons
Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.
“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder said, targeting 11 states that he said continue to restrict voting rights for former inmates, even after they’ve finished their prison terms.
“Across this country today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans — 5.8 million of our fellow citizens — are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions,” Holder told a symposium on criminal justice at Georgetown University.
Holder pushes for restoring voting rights for individuals with prior felony convictions
Published on Feb 18, 2014
February 15, 2014: Co-Director of Advancement Project, Judith Browne Dianis talks to T.J. Holmes about restoring voting rights for individuals with prior felony convictions who have completed their sentences.
Holder: Restore felons’ voting rights
People convicted of felonies should not forever lose their right to vote, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
In remarks prepared for delivery at a criminal justice conference Tuesday, Holder takes aim at state laws which strip voting rights from those convicted of serious crimes.
“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder is to tell the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights Criminal Justice Forum at Georgetown law school. “These restrictions are not only unnecessary and unjust, they are also counterproductive. By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes.”
Holder also plans to note that felon-disenfranchisement laws ban almost one in 13 African Americans from voting and, in states like Florida, Kentucky and Virginia, as many as one in five black adults have been stripped of voting rights. The attorney general argues that these measures are relics of a bygone era.
“However well-intentioned current advocates of felony disenfranchisement may be – the reality is that these measures are, at best, profoundly outdated,” Holder is to say. “At worst, these laws, with their disparate impact on minority communities, echo policies enacted during a deeply troubled period in America’s past – a time of post-Civil War discrimination. And they have their roots in centuries-old conceptions of justice that were too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear.”
Holder has been stepping up his public advocacy on various issues in recent months, including reform to the criminal justice system. He’s pressing to rein in the use of mandatory minimum sentences, particularly for drug crime, and is encouraging some federal inmates to apply for presidential commutations. Such actions would surely have caused a stir during the tough-on-crime 1990s, Holder’s recent moves have encountered little public or political resistance. In fact, some Republicans are supporting shorter sentences for some offenders—in part due to huge prison costs federal and state governments are incurring.
Holder’s speech Tuesday is also expected to include an unusual shout-out for a former Republican official now getting up up-close-and-personal experience with the criminal justice system thanks to prosecutors working for Holder: former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Just last year, former Governor McDonnell adopted a policy that began to automatically restore the voting rights of former prisoners with non-violent felony convictions,” the attorney general’s prepared remarks say. “I applaud those who have already shown leadership in raising awareness and helping to address this issue.”
McDonnell and his wife Maureen were indicted in federal court in Richmond last month on fraud and corruption charges stemming from their relationship with a wealthy Virginia businessman. The McDonnells pled not guilty to their charges and are free pending trial.
Restoring Voting Rights
Nearly 6 million American citizens are unable vote because of a past criminal conviction. As many as 4.4 million of these citizens live, work, and raise families in our communities. But because of a conviction in their past they are still denied this fundamental democratic right. These laws, deeply rooted in our troubled racial history, have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Across the country, 13 percent of African-American men have lost their right to vote, which is seven times the national average.
For a map of current state felon disenfranchisement policies, click here.
Through litigation, legislative and administrative advocacy, and public education, the Brennan Center works nationwide to restore voting rights to people with past criminal convictions. See our state-by-state guide on felony disenfranchisement laws and our work in Congress on the Democracy Restoration Act.
Recent Research From:
In advance of this crucial midterm election, this report details new voting restrictions put in place over the past few years, laws in place for the first time in 2014, and major lawsuits that could affect this year’s elections. See all our 2014 voting resources.
Voices across the political spectrum are calling to repeal laws that stop Americans with a criminal conviction in their past from voting. States should take this opportunity to implement reform.
The Democracy Restoration Act is a crucial step forward in ensuring that we stay true to our promise to make this a nation that provides equality for all.
The Ninth Circuit held that Washington’s criminal disenfranchisement law violates the Voting Rights Act. The decision is the first in the country to find that, due to racial discrimination in the state’s criminal justice system, the felony disenfranchisement law results in the denial of the right to vote on account of race.
Simmons vs. Galvin was a challenge to the Massachusetts law which disenfranchises people with felony convictions from voting while they are incarcerated.In a 2-1 decision, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and held that no claims can be brought against Massachusetts law under the Voting Rights Act.
Thank you Brennan Center For Justice.
Voting Rights Returning for Felons?
Published on Feb 20, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul and Attorney General Eric Holder are interested in restoring voting rights for felons and former prison inmates. The disenfranchisement of convicted felons, who number 5.85 million Americans, has been criticized as racist and unfairly targeting minorities, and we discuss how the prospective reform has created such strange bedfellows as Holder and Paul in this Buzzsaw news clip with Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace.
Is It Time To Give Felons Back Their Voting Rights?
Published on Feb 23, 2014
Why would an American who has served felony time for any crime, unless it’s directly related to voting, voter fraud, be denied the right to vote upon completing ALL court appointed duties related to his/her case? In other words if and when you walk out the gates of any prison and complete all parole duties, your Constitutional right to vote should and MUST be fully restored.
Unless you’re a RepubliCANT, or a TeaTardedRepubliCANT Pseudo-Freudian, Psycho-Sexual, Pro-caucasian, Pro-Racist, Anti-LGBTQA1, Anti-Feminist, Reich Wing GOPretender Conselfishservative, NRA-Gun Loving, Nut Bag, bottom feeding, racist, ass backwards, white supremacists, Koch Brothers & A.L.E.C. controlled morons, greedy, wealthy, caucasian, special interest groups, asshole Party Member…..and you realize that the majority of the 5.8 MILLION released ex-felons hate your party, and plan to vote for the other guy….THEN Felony Disenfranchisement makes perfect sense.
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