Fact Sheets
Featured Video
  • National Press Club Forum: A 25-Year Vision for Criminal Justice Reform
  • Unlocking Justice: Alternatives to Prison
State Contacts
October 25, 2012 (Reuters)

A potentially powerful yet shunned voting bloc

Citizens with felony convictions could account for up to 10 percent of the roughly 130 million Americans expected to vote in the November 6 election-- more than enough to affect the razor-thin margins that could determine the outcome.

Yet neither Democrats nor Republicans are doing much to reach out to them.

"Criminals are not a popular constituency," says James Hamm, 64, who spent 17 years in prison in Arizona for a drug-related homicide and now heads an inmate advocacy group with his wife, a retired judge. "Politicians don't want to say, 'Hey, I have the backing of people who committed crimes.'"

According to a report, State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010, by The Sentencing Project, 5.85 million citizens have been disenfranchised because of a felony conviction.

Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said this constituency is generally ignored when it comes to voting. 

"There simply isn't a lot of encouragement for them to even register," said Mauer. "If we believe everyone should vote, we shouldn't put character conditions on it."

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Racial Disparity, Felony Disenfranchisement, Collateral Consequences