Petition Closed
Petitioning U.S. House of Representatives and 2 others

Prisoners Should Have the Right to Vote

During 2002 Canada gave prisoners the right to vote. On January 4, 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that Washington State prisoners should be allowed to vote to ensure that racial minorities are protected under the Voting Rights Act, as African Americans make up 3% of Washington's general population, but are 28% of its prison population. The lawsuit that was ruled on contended that as non whites make up a large percentage of the prison population, the State law prohibiting inmates and parolees from voting is illegal as it dilutes the electoral clout of minorities. The Sentencing Project estimates that due to their legal status, 5.3 million Americans who would otherwise be entitled to vote do not have that right.

Currently, Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow prisoners to vote, and there are eleven states, mostly in the south, where somebody convicted of a felony permanently loses their right to vote. The contention of this petition is that the laws barring prisoners and parolees from voting violate the Voting Rights Acts and are racist, because they disproportionately affect people of color and that all such state laws should be declared unconstitutional. Furthermore, such laws are an additional barrier to reintegration into the community of ex-offenders, something that should be the goal of the correctional system.

Below is a link to a table that delineates voting rights of prisoners and ex-offenders state by state:

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