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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Sentencing Project released a new report, “Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform,” which provides a state-by-state accounting of the changes to voting rights for people with felony convictions and measures its impact.
The report highlights that over 2 million Americans have regained the right to vote since 1997. Moreover, the number of people disenfranchised due to a felony conviction has reduced by 24% since peaking in 2016. Despite this momentum, over 4.6 million Americans with a felony conviction were disenfranchised as of 2022, disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx residents.
“This report demonstrates that there is momentum across the country to reform America’s restrictive and racially discriminatory voting laws. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done to end felony disenfranchisement and guarantee the right to vote for all Americans,” said Nicole Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project and co-author of the report. “Over the last 50 years, America’s failed mass incarceration policies not only staggeringly increased the prison population and the community of people with a criminal record, but also increased the number of people banned from voting due to a felony conviction. We must keep up the fight to ensure that every American – regardless of their history with the criminal legal system – has a say in our democracy.”
Since 1997, 26 states and the District of Columbia have expanded voting rights to people living with felony convictions or amended policies to guarantee ballot access. These reforms were achieved through various mechanisms, including legislative reform, executive action, and ballot measures. The reforms include:
- Restoration of voting rights to persons in prison in Washington, DC;
- Expansion of voting rights to some or all persons on felony probation or parole in 12 states; and
- Increased accessibility for persons seeking rights restoration in 14 states.
The full report is available here.