Mississippi has an estimated 182,814 convicted felons ineligible to vote, according to a 2012 study by the Sentencing Project, a national nonprofit organization that works on criminal justice issues. Only Florida with 1.54 million felons or 10.42 percent of its voter-age population ineligible to vote had a higher percentage than Mississippi where 8.27 percent of the adult population was ineligible to vote, according to the study. While the Sentencing Project study might be a bit dated, more than likely the statistics have not changed much in Mississippi. Since 2012, which encompasses the time the current leadership has controlled the House and Senate, eight felons have had their voting rights restored by the Mississippi Legislature.
It used to not be so difficult to get a bill through the Mississippi Legislature to restore felony voting rights. In the 2004 Mississippi legislative session, for instance, 35 felons had their voting rights restored, according to research done by Brian Perry, a political columnist and Republican political consultant based in the Jackson area.
The Sentencing Project estimates between 2000-2010, 106 felons in Mississippi had their voting rights restored – and that was during a time when the Legislature did not seem so adverse to tackling the issue.
Mississippi is in the minority of states – 10 – where voting rights are not automatically restored for felons either after they complete their sentence or at some point after completing their parole or probation. In two states, Maine and Vermont, the felons never lose their voting rights.