In Mississippi, a person convicted of selling 1,000 kilos of cocaine keeps the right to vote while a person convicted of grand larceny loses the right to vote for life. Mississippi lists 21 felony crimes that disqualify a person from voting for life: arson; armed robbery; bigamy; bribery; embezzlement; extortion; felony bad check; felony shoplifting; forgery; larceny; murder; obtaining money or goods under false pretense; perjury; rape; receiving stolen property; robbery; theft; timber larceny; unlawful taking of motor vehicle; statutory rape; carjacking; and larceny under lease or rental agreement. In Mississippi, the only way to restore the right to vote after a felony conviction is by the Legislature passing a suffrage bill. However, very few people have their right to vote restored through the legislative process. “It’s not an effective, workable system,” said longtime state Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston. “It’s basically a 19th century system for the 21st century.”
Reynolds said Mississippi is one of only a few states with a disenfranchising felony crime law in its State Constitution. The Mississippi NAACP and other organizations and groups have referred to them as Jim Crow laws, which they say are designed to limit minority participation in the political process.
Reynolds said he believes Mississippi’s law will be struck down in the future as unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution. “What is the rationale for disenfranchising certain crimes?” Reynolds asked.
State Rep. Willie Bailey, D-Greenville, said he refused this year to serve as chairman of the subcommittee on suffrage, which initially takes up legislative bills to restore a person’s right to vote. Bailey said he believes if a person serves his time, he shouldn’t have to go to the Legislature or any hoops to get voting rights restored.
Full Article: Small number have voting rights restored in Mississippi.