His mailbox has been stuffed with campaign letters, his TV plastered with political ads. But Brian Wright of Louisville won’t be casting a ballot Tuesday in Kentucky’s election. He’s among an estimated 7.4 percent of voting-age Kentuckians — including 22.3 percent of black voting-age residents — barred from casting ballots because of a felony conviction, a disenfranchisement rate that is third-highest in the nation, according to the Sentencing Project, a reform advocacy group. “I want to have a voice,” said Wright, 33, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to drug possession, receiving five years of probation and losing the ability to vote. Kentucky is one of only four states where all felons permanently lose their right to vote unless it is restored by the governor, said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. He argued the state’s high exclusion rate is “quite likely to have a real impact on elections.”
But Wright is among those hoping that could soon change. After years of failed attempts, there’s growing support for a referendum in Kentucky that would allow the automatic restoration of voting rights for most non-violent felons who have served their time.
The effort gained traction earlier this year with the high-profile support of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder singled out Kentucky in calling for reforms. More recently, the Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution supporting a change.
Full Article: Kentucky voting law leaves many out of election.