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How Voting Laws Squelch Urban America’s Voice

September 05, 2016
Upwards of 6 million Americans are ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction, with the disenfranchised population disproportionately concentrated in urban areas.

Upwards of 6 million Americans are ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction, and this population of disenfranchised individuals is concentrated in urban areas, Next City reports.

Felony disenfranchisement policies disproportionately affect African American communities, with The Sentencing Project’s latest data showing that black Americans are more than four times as likely to lose voting rights than other Americans, with 1 in 13 black adults, or 7.7 percent, disenfranchised nationally, compared to 1 in 56 non-black voters.

The Sentencing Project’s executive director, Marc Mauer, remembers the call from a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter. It was about 1996 and the newspaper had done an analysis showing that about one-quarter of black males in the state were disenfranchised. “I was shocked to hear this, of course,” says Mauer, who soon dug into state policies and U.S. Department of Justice data on the topic, issuing his first estimates of national felon disenfranchisement in 1997 and 1998.

The majority of disenfranchised individuals today are not in prison but living in the community, on probation or parole or having completed their sentence—and across the country, formerly incarcerated individuals with felony convictions are organizing to get their voting rights back.

Read the full article on Next City.

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