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Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2008

September 01, 2008
Ryan King
Since 1997, 19 states have amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to reduce their restrictiveness and expand voter eligibility.

In 1998, The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch published Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, which documented the broad sweep of laws that restrict voting rights for people with felony convictions.

Since that time, felony disenfranchisement policies have received high-level policymaker and media attention. This increased public exposure has extended across the spectrum, from high-stakes presidential politics in Florida in which purging procedures were questioned, to neighborhood-level efforts to educate and register people with felony convictions. This escalation in attention to felony disenfranchisement policies has translated into substantial state-level reform.

This report provides an assessment of the national movement for reform over the past eleven years. We find that since 1997, 19 states have amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to reduce their restrictiveness and expand voter eligibility.

These policy changes represent a national momentum for reform of restrictive voting rights laws. As a result of these reforms, at least 760,000 persons have regained the right to vote.

To read the report, download the PDF below.

Note: An update to this report was published in 2018.

 
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