I’m not even sure we should take away prisoners’ right to vote when they’re locked up (can we trust that prisons are humane places if we refuse to consider the opinions of those who have to live there?) — but continuing to deny them that fundamental right even after they’ve completed their sentence is truly cruel, if not unusual.
This article originally appeared in The Guardian.
With another presidential election approaching, there is growing discussion about the fact that up to 6 million American citizens have been disenfranchised (pdf) – many for life – due to a felony conviction. They (along with millions more who can vote) were never told that their voting rights would be lost, suspended or – perhaps – restored; or that, even years after release and re-integration, moving across a state line could subject them to this cycle all over again.
I know this, because I am one of the 6 million who lost his right to vote.
Like me, anyone with a conviction who wants to vote must first navigate a patchwork of laws that change at every state line. Our historical arc toward expanding voting rights is frustrated in states like Florida, where felons couldn’t vote, then could, and now can’t again…
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