Next Tuesday, tens of millions of Americans will take to the polls to vote on everything from ballot issues to federal, state and local representation. But millions of voting-age adults will be sitting this one out. An estimated 5.85 million Americans won’t be able to vote due to prior felony convictions, according to an estimate from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice nonprofit think tank. Of those, roughly 44 percent are estimated to be felons who live in the 12 states that still restrict voting rights after sentences have been served, a practice that excludes as many as 1 in 10 voting-age residents of Florida, the state with the highest rates of felon disenfranchisement. Such policies have a disproportionate impact on blacks, restricting the vote for roughly 1 in 13 voting-age blacks nationwide.
But in some states, the rate is much higher. More than 20 percent of voting-age blacks in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia will not be able to vote due to felony convictions—whether or not they have fully served their sentences. In six more states, such policies affect between 10 percent and 20 percent of black adults.
Florida is home not only to the highest rates of black felon disenfranchisement, but overall disenfranchisement, too. More than 10 percent of voting-age Floridians are not able to vote. Mississippi is next, with a disenfranchisement rate of 8.3 percent. Another five states—Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Wyoming—have rates above 5 percent.