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November 6, 2012 (USA Today)

In nationwide rarity, D.C. jail helps inmates vote

The District of Columbia has been making an effort to help prisoners vote for the last several years.

This year, 88 men voted at the D.C. Jail. That's a fraction of the facility's some 1,700 inmates and a tiny number when compared with the approximately 267,000 residents who cast ballots in the last presidential election.

But voting at the D.C. jail and a facility where women are housed next door is unique.

Most states and the District of Columbia bar people who are imprisoned for a felony conviction from voting. Still, inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide, are allowed to vote as long as they aren't barred by a past felony conviction.

Most states don't actively help these people vote, said Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project. "In the vast majority of jails there's absolutely nothing being done to make that happen," Mauer said.

Issue Area(s): Incarceration, Felony Disenfranchisement, Collateral Consequences