Editorials: The voting rights issue no one talks about: Ending the disenfranchisement of felons will strengthen democracy | Sean McElwee/Salon.com

April 3, 2017

Elections are decided by who votes — and increasingly, in America, by who cannot. Barriers to voting participation skew policy outcomes and elections to the right in the United States. One of the most racially discriminatory of these barriers is felon disenfranchisement. Nearly 6 million Americans are disenfranchised due to felonies. This may seem like a small share of the population, but the concentration of disenfranchisement in some states makes it enough to shift elections. In six Southern states — Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia — more than 7 percent of the adult population is disenfranchised. Unsurprisingly, given the racial biases in the criminal justice system, the burden does not fall equally across racial groups. In the most definitive research, Christopher Uggen, Sarah Shannon and Jeff Manza find that “one of every 13 African-Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than non-African Americans.” New research suggests this is skewing democracy.

Read more: https://thevotingnews.com/the-voting-rights-issue-no-one-talks-about-ending-the-disenfranchisement-of-felons-will-strengthen-democracy-sean-mcelweesalon-com/