New Research and Papers
A 'Crazy-Quilt' of Tiny Pieces: State and Local Administration of American Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws
By Alec Ewald, Union College. A new report published by
The Sentencing Project finds widespread confusion and
errors in the implementation of felony
disenfranchisement laws. Among the report's key
findings are: more than one-third (37%) of local
elections officials interviewed misunderstand state
eligibility law. The report concludes that
disenfranchisement is a "time consuming, expensive
practice" and calls on state policymakers to review
voting restrictions, particularly for non-incarcerated
people. The Sentencing Project, November 2005.
Barred for Life: Voting Rights Restoration in Permanent Disenfranchisement States
By Marc Mauer and Tushar Kansal. Examines the rights-restoration process
in the 14 states in which disenfranchisement may last for a lifetime. The study
finds that in 11 of these states, less than 3% of disenfranchised persons have
had their rights restored in recent years. The study identifies a range of obstacles
in most states, including overly cumbersome processes, lengthy and confusing waiting
periods, inappropriate character tests, and inadequate data collection.
Connecticut: Parole Disenfranchisement Analysis
The state of Connecticut expanded voting rights to people on probation in 2001, but parolees are still disenfranchised in the state. Reform efforts are underway to repeal the ban on parolee voting. A new briefing paper by The Sentencing Project analyzes the effect of current policy in the state, and finds that 77% of the affected population is African American and Latino. In addition, Connecticut has experienced a 198% rise in its parole population since 1997, 25 times the average growth rate nationally, thus dramatically increasing the number of citizens who have lost the right to vote.
A Decade of Reform: Felony Disenfranchisement Policy in the U.S.
October 2006. The Sentencing Project has released a new report
revealing a new wave of reforms of state felony voting
laws and growing momentum toward restoring voting
rights. Findings published in "A Decade of Reform:
Felony Disenfranchisement Policy" in the United States
disclose that since 1997, 16 states have implemented
policy reforms that have reduced the restrictiveness of
these laws, and more than 600,000 people in seven
states have regained their voting rights. The report
also states: U.S. disenfranchisement laws remain among
the world's most severe despite public opinion polls
showing 80% support for restoring the vote to those who
have completed their sentences. During this year alone,
73 bills on felony disenfranchisement were introduced
in 22 states and 85% of these initiatives sought to
expand voting rights. More than 5 million Americans
still will be banned from voting this Election Day;
three quarters of those banned - 3.9 million - are
living in the community. An estimated 1 in 12 African
Americans is disenfranchised, a rate nearly five times
the rate of non-African Americans.
Expanding the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997- 2008
Documents a reform movement over the past eleven years that has resulted in more than 760,000 citizens having regained their right to vote. The report found that since 1997, 19 states have amended felony disenfranchisement policies in an effort to reduce their restrictiveness and expand voter eligibility.
The report finds: Nine states either repealed or amended lifetime disenfranchisement laws.Two states expanded voting rights to persons under community supervision (probation and parole).Five states eased the restoration process for persons seeking to have their right to vote restored after completing sentence. The Sentencing Project. September 2008
Felon Disenfranchisement and Democracy in the Late Jim Crow Era
Arguing that there is no reasonable justification behind felon disenfranchisement, "Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy" (Oxford University Press 2006) by Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen is reviewed in the Ohio State University Journal of Criminal Law, entitled "Felon Disenfranchisement and Democracy in the Late Jim Crow Era," by University of Arizona Professor Gabriel J. Chin, and focuses on the history and policy behind disenfranchisement. (November 2007)
Felony Disenfranchisement: An Annotated Bibliography
Provides an overview of more than 80 journal articles and books on felony disenfranchisement over the past two decades. Compiled by Benjamin Bronstein, Jerome Pierce, and Achilles Sangster II, and edited by Marc Mauer. The Sentencing Project. March 2012.
The Modern-Day Poll Tax: How Economic Sanctions Block Access to the Polls
An article by Erika Wood and Neema Trivedi of the Brennan Center for Justice in the Clearinghouse Review, June 2007. The article details the over two-centuries-old tradition of disenfranchisement and how it became a practice in targeting formerly incarcerated individuals. "The spread of felony disenfranchisement laws in the late 1800s was part of a larger backlash against the adoption of the Reconstruction Amendments. Despite newfound eligibility, many freedmen remained practically disenfranchised as a result of organized efforts to prevent them from voting," the article states.
NY Board of Elections Survey: Misinformation Costs Thousands of Eligible New Yorkers Their Vote
Survey of 63 county boards of elections shows that fully one-third are systematically and improperly preventing formerly incarcerated persons from registering to vote. March 2006.
Should felons be allowed to vote? This site presents in a simple, nonpartisan, pro-con format, responses to the core question "Should felons be allowed to vote?"
6 Million Lost Voters: State-Level Estimates of Felony Disenfranchisement, 2016
Christopher Uggen, Ryan Larson, and Sarah Shannon. The Sentencing Project. October 2016. A record 6.1 million people — 1 of every 40 adults — are disenfranchised because of state laws that bar voting by Americans with a felony conviction, and in some states even if they have completed all requirements of their sentence. That figure has escalated dramatically in recent decades as the population under criminal justice supervision has increased. Over three-quarters of this population (4.7 million people) are not incarcerated, but are living in their local communities – some on probation or parole, while others have completed their legal obligations. Nationwide, 1 in every 13 black adults cannot vote as a result of a felony conviction, and in four states—Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia—this figure is more than one in five. According to the report, African Americans are disenfranchised at a rate more than four times that of non-African Americans nationally.
State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2010
By Christopher Uggen and Sarah Shannon of the University of Minnesota, and Jeff Manza of New York University. The Sentencing Project. July 2012. Provides comprehensive estimates of the extent of disenfranchisement in all 50 states.
The report documents that a record 5.85 million people are disenfranchised as a result of a felony conviction and will not be able to vote in the November elections. In addition, findings include:
• The number of disenfranchised persons has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 5.85 million today
• Of the total disenfranchised population, about 45% -- 2.6 million people – have completed their sentences, but reside in one of the 11 states that disenfranchise people post-sentence
• 1 of every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, and in three states -- Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia – the figure is one in five.
A Study of Felon and Misdemeanant Voter Participation in North Carolina
Analyzes the effects of the growing number
of felony convictions in the United States (more than one
million per year) on political participation by studying
the impact of convictions on voter registration and
turnout in North Carolina.
The study also proposes a model of how crime policies
affect participation that encompasses the effects of legal
disenfranchisement along with other mechanisms which may
suppress participation. Burch finds that before their
convictions, people with felony convictions had lower
registration and turnout rates than people who had never
been convicted but that felony convictions further depress
registration and turnout rates. The Sentencing Project
Violations of Article 25: Voting Rights
A 2006 report by The Sentencing
Project to the United Nations' Human Rights
Committee regarding the United States' compliance with
dictates specified in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).