The Sentencing Project’s research found over 5 million citizens, disproportionately Black and Latinx Americans, were excluded from our democracy in 2020 because of a felony conviction on their record. I understand this electoral exclusion very well, because there was a time when I was not able to vote because of a felony conviction on my record. I know how discriminatory, confusing and frustrating the process is to have one’s voting rights restored.
The good news is, like me, many people can and have had their voting rights restored. During 2021, thousands of justice involved individuals regained their voting rights in Connecticut, New York and Washington state. President Biden also signed an Executive Order which directed the Bureau of Prisons to ensure eligible voters in federal custody have access to the ballot. While these are all trends in the right direction, the fight doesn’t end there.
As we continue to work with advocates across the country, we must continue to fight to make sure that every person, regardless of felony conviction, whether on probation, parole or in prison, is able to participate fully in our democracy.
In honor of National Voting Rights Month, join our special #FreetheVote events:
- Sept 15th: Webinar: Challenging Felony Disenfranchisement to Fight Voter Suppression at 2pm ET. Register here.
- Sept 19th: Michigan Film Screening: Silenced: An Unlock Civics Chicago Votes Documentary followed by a panel discussion at Wayne State University, 3pm ET. Details here.
- Sept 30th: Virtual Screening of the Chicago Votes documentary at 7:30pm ET. Details here.
Another way to show your support for National Voting Rights Month is to make a contribution today. We have set an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 to dramatically expand our voting rights research and advocacy activities in the months to come.
The work continues….
Keeda J. Haynes
Voting Rights Campaign Strategist