In Florida, more than one in five black adults can’t vote. Not because they lack citizenship or haven’t registered, but because they have, at some point, been convicted of a felony. The Sunshine State’s not alone. As in Florida, more than 20 percent of black adults have lost their right to vote in Kentucky and Virginia, too, according to the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates for reforms to sentencing policy that reduces racial disparities. Three states — Florida, Iowa and Kentucky — ban anyone who has ever received a felony conviction from voting. But many other states have weaker disenfranchisement laws—ones that ban those currently serving sentences or those on parole or probation. And Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday called on them to rethink the “unnecessary and unjust” policies.
“At worst, these laws, with their disparate impact on minority communities, echo policies enacted during a deeply troubled period in America’s past – a time of post-Civil War repression. And they have their roots in centuries-old conceptions of justice that were too often based on exclusion, animus, and fear,” he said in a speech at Georgetown University’s Law Center, in Washington, D.C.
States have been ratcheting back such policies on their own. Doing so had been a running theme of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s time in office, for example. But more than 1 in 15 adults — all adults — in Mississippi, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida can’t currently vote because of felon bans. Those states spend more than $6 billion combined on corrections, with more than 3 million people disenfranchised.
Full Article: How felon voting policies restrict the black vote.