Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Restoration of Voting Rights Picks up Steam

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   2 comments
Author 5315
Message Project Vote
- Advertisement -

Weekly Voting Rights News Roundup

This an entry in a series of blogs to keep people informed on current election reform and voting rights issues in the news.

Featured Stories of the Week:

Md.’s ex-felons register to vote: New law allows those who served their sentences to cast a ballot – The Baltimore Sun

- Advertisement -

Judge may hear ACLU voting rights suit by fall, lawyer says – Associated Press, Sun Herald

A growing civil rights trend in several parts of the country is the restoration of voting rights to former felons, a population historically left to be “'just a ghost to democracy'” upon release. This week, two states made contrasting news with one granting voting rights all to ex-felons for the first time and another having its strict state law challenged and possibly heard by a judge this fall.

These actions clear the way for a re-shaping of the electorates in those states to more closely resemble the make-up of the population - a major step forward in any representative democracy. This Project Vote report discusses the impact of felon disenfranchisement laws on minority and low income citizens: “The disenfranchisement rate of African-American men in seven times the national average at 13%,” however, “research has shown that poor and/or non-white persons are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison than their wealthier, white counterparts.”

- Advertisement -

On Sunday July 1, a new Maryland law went into effect, allowing “all former felons to vote immediately after they complete their sentences, including any parole or probation for the conviction,” Julie Turkewitz of the Baltimore Sun reported. “The law stands to affect Baltimore the most, according to advocates, because the city is home to the highest concentration of former felons in the state.”

Maryland was one of 12 states to have a permanent disenfranchisement laws, Turkewitz wrote, while noting its part in a “nationwide trend that has expanded voting rights for people with criminal records.”

A similar statement was made by Mississippi ACLU legal director John Williams: “In the states, there's a trend to give felons their voting rights back,” according to Sheila Byrd of the Associated Press. The group filed a lawsuit against the state's disenfranchisement law on behalf of two residents against the offices of the ecretary of tate and ttorney eneral. It may be heard by a judge this fall, Williams said. He hopes the state will take after Maryland and Florida, which recently changed its previous permanent-disenfranchisement law to automatically restore the voting rights of 15,500 ex-felons this year.

The state constitution lists 10 crimes that result in permanent voter disenfranchisement if committed. “Eleven other crimes were added to the list in 2004 based on an ttorney eneral's opinion,” Byrd wrote. “It is the latter group of crimes that the ACLU is challenging.” Attorney General Jim Hood said those additional crimes, including shoplifting, timber larceny and extortion, “'were not intentionally included for racial reasons.'” Most of the added crimes involved larceny, “a term that was not used in the 1896 constitution,” he said.

Currently, about “146,000 convicted felons are disenfranchised under the state's laws.”

'The message is very clear that disenfranchisement laws are a vestige of a past in which efforts were made to limit the franchise of African Americans,'”said Ryan King of the Sentencing Project, a group that “conducts research and advocacy on behalf of convicted felons.”

- Advertisement -

Quick Links:

The Sentencing Project

Mississippi ACLU

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Rate It | View Ratings

Project Vote Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Project Vote is the leading technical assistance and direct service provider to the civic participation community. Since its founding in 1982, Project Vote has provided professional training, management, evaluation (more...)
 
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Mich. GOP Targets Foreclosure Victims for Election Day Dirty Tricks

Ohio's Brunner Right to Demand Cleveland Board of Elections Resignation

After 2008 Election, Some States Want to Make Voting Easier; Others Determined to Make it Harder

Youth Voter Participation Surges - But So Do Voter Suppression Attempts

Project Vote & ACORN Complete Historic 1.3 Million Voter Registration Drive

Living in Glass Houses: The GOP's Own Man is Convicted of Voter Registration Fraud