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February 21, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)

Comments of The Sentencing Project on Restoring Voting Rights in Tennessee

Tennessee is among the most punitive states in the nation in denying voting rights to citizens who have committed a felony.  In 2010, over 340,000 Tennesseans – 7 percent of the state’s voting-age population – were denied the right to vote because of their criminal history.  Nearly one in five African Americans in Tennessee is disenfranchised.

Moreover, the state is unique in requiring that offenders pay not only all financial obligations but also all outstanding child support arrears before their voting rights are restored – a burden that falls disproportionately on the poor.

Felony disenfranchisement is not only unjust and undemocratic, but it is counterproductive to the goal of increasing public safety.  By clicking here, you can read comments submitted by The Sentencing Project to a Tennessee panel studying how the state might bring more of its citizens into the electoral process rather than excluding them through felony disenfranchisement.

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