Why be concerned about felony disenfranchisement?
Because it helped Donald Trump become president in 2016.
This is from the 2016 Election Postmortem by Ed Sawicki:
The chickens came home to roost in 2016. After decades of doing nothing about felony disenfranchisement, the 2016 election had about six million fewer voters—most would have favored Democrats. But Democrats did little to fix this problem over the years, and Republicans didn't want it fixed.
Ironically, during the 2016 campaign season, many liberals on social media agreed with Republicans that felons shouldn't be allowed to vote. Yet they couldn't explain why they felt this way other than felons broke the law so there should be a penalty, apparently feeling that prison was not penalty enough.
These six million felons are not evenly distributed across our 435 congressional districts, but if they were, that’s more than 13,793 people per voting district who are prohibited from voting. This is another self-inflicted wound for the Democrats.
State Democrats should have done more before the 2016 election for prison reform generally and ensuring that felons had the right to vote specifically. One problem is that hundreds of Democratic seats in state legislatures were lost during the Bush and Obama years. More self-inflicted wounds.
There are twenty-four places in the world where felons face no voting restrictions:
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- Washington DC
In all other places, voting is restricted for felons. Voting in the United States is controlled by the states and most states deny felons their right to vote. Felons lose their right to vote for the remainder of their lives in Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia. The same is true of Armenia, Belgium, and Chile.
In most other states and countries, felons regain their right to vote sometime after they're released from prison or probation. This maps gives you an overview: