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November 5, 2012 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Battlegrounds Va., Fla. lead in citizens who can’t vote

Presidential battleground states Florida and Virginia lead the nation with the most citizens with felony conviction who are not allowed to vote.

A recent study by the Sentencing Project, State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010, shows an estimated three out of four of the nation's 2.6 million citizens without the franchise live in the two states. Florida leads the nation with 1.54 million, and Virginia is second with 351,942. These disenfranchised citizens have completed their prison sentences, parole and probation terms, but cannot vote.

"That's an awful lot of potential votes," said Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia. "Most people will be stunned to learn the total is so high."

The report by the Sentencing Project estimated that in 2010, one in every 40 adults in the U.S. —one of every 13 African-Americans of voting age — was disenfranchised because of a felony records.

Virginia's estimated felony disenfranchisement rate of 7.34 percent was exceeded only by Florida, at 10.42 percent; Mississippi at 8.27 percent; and Kentucky at 7.35.

In Virginia in 2010, one in five adult African-Americans was without voting rights, the third-highest rate in the U.S. behind only Florida, at 23 percent, and Kentucky, at 22 percent.

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