Today, The Sentencing Project is excited to share that significant voting rights restoration legislation has been signed into law in Minnesota. The Restore the Vote Act will automatically expand voting rights to over 46,000 Minnesotans who are either on probation or parole.
Nicole D. Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy at The Sentencing Project, issued the following statement in support of the legislation:
“Our movement partners on the ground in Minnesota worked tirelessly to promote civic engagement across the state. This legislation is a shining example and beacon of hope for people nationwide seeking their voting rights after their involvement in the criminal legal system shut them out of our democracy.
The Sentencing Project looks forward to seeing this bill implemented in a comprehensive manner. We also encourage Minnesota lawmakers to go further to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens, regardless of their incarceration status. While this bill is an important step forward, the work is not done in Minnesota.”
Driving Minnesota’s high rate of disenfranchisement is the number of people under community supervision. Historically, anyone with a felony serving probation, parole, or supervised release had to first finish their sentence before their right to vote could be restored. The Minnesota Restore the Vote legislation ends this practice. Persons completing their sentence on probation and parole can now vote if they are not incarcerated.
Minnesota’s voting laws also disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latinx, and Indigenous residents who are overrepresented in the state’s criminal justice system. Black Minnesotans make up about 7% of Minnesota’s population, but comprise 36% of the state’s prison population. Racial disparities among people in Minnesota’s large community supervision programs are also significant. Restoring the vote helps to dismantle the legacy of “Jim Crow” laws by ensuring that people who have experienced imprisonment and criminalization are guaranteed a voice in our democracy.
About The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice. You can find our media guidance on crime coverage here.