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February 15, 2013 (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe)

Report says U.S elections competitive and professional but could improve

According to a report by the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the general elections in the United States on November 6, 2012 took place in “a competitive environment and were administered professionally.”  Further steps, however, are recommended to bring the electoral process closer in line with commitments to the OSCE, of which the U.S. is a member.

The report, issued February 13, 2013, notes that consideration should be given to providing “full representation rights in Congress for citizens resident in the District of Columbia and United States territories,” in line with the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document.  The report also recommended a review of existing measures to register voters to ensure that all persons entitled to vote can exercise that right.

The report also recommended that restrictions of voting rights for prisoners and ex-prisoners should be reviewed to ensure that any limitation is proportionate to the crime committed and clearly outlined in the law.

The disenfranchisement of people with a felony conviction has increased dramatically in the United States. State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010, a report by The Sentencing Project documents that by 2010 a record 5.85 million people were disenfranchised as a result of a felony conviction--rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 5.85 million today.

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