Felon voting laws to disenfranchise historic number of Americans in 2012
Minority groups especially vulnerable to strict state laws that strip voting rights from people who have committed a felony
Ed Pilkington in Naples, Florida
guardian.co.uk, Friday 13 July 2012
Almost 6 million Americans will not be able to vote in November's presidential election under tough state rules that have pushed the number of disenfranchised former convicted criminals to a historic high.
A new study by the Sentencing Project estimates that a record 5.85 million people – some 2.5% of the US voting age population equivalent to one out of every 40 adult Americans – will be ineligible to vote in November by dint of having been convicted of a felony. That includes almost 3 million people who have served their sentence in full, including all probation, and yet are still stripped of their right to vote under harsh state laws.
The US is the among the strictest nations in the world in terms of denying the vote to those who have felony convictions on their record. The Sentencing Project report shows how the laws have been sharply toughened up in recent years across many states, dramatically increasing the numbers caught in the felony trap – from just 1.2 million people in 1976 to 5.9 million in 2010.
African Americans and other minority ethnic groups are particularly vulnerable to being disenfranchised. Almost 8% of adult African Americans are ineligible to vote because of convictions, compared to 1.8% of the rest of the adult population. ............(more)