Press Release

The Sentencing Project, National Voting in Prison Coalition Applaud Introduction of the Inclusive Democracy Act

The Inclusive Democracy Act would allow all currently and formerly incarcerated people to vote in federal elections.

Related to: Voting Rights

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Peter Welch (VT) introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act, which would allow all currently and formerly incarcerated people to vote in federal elections.

“The Sentencing Project and the National Voting in Prison Coalition applaud Congresswoman Ayana Pressley and Senator Peter Welch for introducing the Inclusive Democracy Act. The ability to participate in the electoral process is a fundamental right, one that we should not allow our government to take away. This bill is an important step in upholding the principles of our democracy and building a more just and inclusive society,” said Nicole D. Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy with The Sentencing Project. “Not only is expanding voting rights the morally correct thing  to do – it is also effective policy: for people who have been impacted by the criminal legal system, restoring voting rights has been linked to reduced recidivism, as it helps them rehabilitate and reintegrate into civic life.”

Polling from Lake Research Partners found that a majority of voters (56%) would support a law guaranteeing the eligibility to vote for all citizens 18 and older, including citizens completing their sentence, both inside and outside of prison.

Many of the laws linking voting rights to an individuals’ history with the criminal justice system have their roots in reconstruction-era policies which were explicitly designed to deny the right to vote to Black and Brown people, including poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and cross burnings. As a result of these outdated policies, over 4.6 million Americans with a felony conviction were disenfranchised as of 2022, disproportionately impacting Black and Latinx Americans.

The National Voting in Prison Coalition, consisting of directly-impacted activists, research organizations, and other experts, has been working together to expand and protect the right to vote for justice-impacted individuals including persons completing their sentence inside of jails and prisons

About The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project advocates for effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

About The National Voting in Prison Coalition
The National Voting in Prison Coalition is a new national coalition formed to advance guaranteed voting rights for justice-involved Americans, including those currently and formerly incarcerated or otherwise impacted by the criminal legal system. Coalition members supporting this statement include:  The Sentencing Project, Common Cause, Stand Up America, JustUS Coordinating Council, WISDOM of Wisconsin, IMAN Atlanta, Institute for Forgiveness, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Rural Arizona Action, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Progress Arizona, Civic Nebraska, and Nolef Turns Inc. Virginia.

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