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States with the most felony disenfranchised voters

  • States with the most felony disenfranchised voters

    Almost 6 million Americans are unable to vote due to disenfranchisement laws surrounding prior felony convictions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). No states have a unilateral ban on voting by former felons, but just two states allow currently incarcerated individuals to vote. At the center of the felony voting rights controversy is Florida, where voting rights were restored in 2018 for up to 1.4 million felons who had completed their sentences. But with the presidential election a month away, many of those indviduals remain disenfranchised due to a court order requiring all legal fees to be paid prior to voting rights being restored.

    Stacker used data from The Sentencing Project to compile a ranking of states based on how many disenfranchised voters each state had during the 2016 election due to felony convictions. States are ranked according to the percentage of the voting-age population that is disenfranchised, with ties broken by the number of disenfranchised voters in the state.

    Felony disenfranchisement is a term describing laws that restrict voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes. Many states have laws that don’t allow convicted felons to vote, and some go as far as not letting felons vote even after they complete their sentences.

    Maine and Vermont are tied for #49, as they did not have any disenfranchised voters. For the purposes of this article, voting laws relate to U.S. citizens within each state.

    Laws designed to prevent individuals from voting were prevalent throughout the South during the Jim Crow era, widely targeting Black communities with fines, literacy tests, and intimidation tactics. Of more than 6 million felony disenfranchised today because of felonies, almost 40% are Black, though the Black population in the U.S. is a little over 13%.

    Keep reading to learn more about the states with the most disenfranchised voters due to felony convictions.

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  • #49. Maine (tie)

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 0 (0% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 0
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 0
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 1,072,948

    Maine and Vermont are the only two states to permit probationers, parolees, and prison inmates to vote in elections. Despite this, few prisoners exercise this right: Less access to information and low literacy rates have stunted involvement by such individuals in the electoral process.

  • #49. Vermont (tie)

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 0 (0% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 0
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 0
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 506,119

    The decision granting voting rights for all Vermont residents, including those who are or have been incarcerated, was signed into law in 1799. Those currently imprisoned are only permitted to vote by absentee ballot for the address at which they most recently lived prior to incarceration.

  • #48. Massachusetts

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 11,176 (0.2% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 10,254
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 921
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 5,407,335

    While incarcerated, the voting rights of individuals In Massachusetts and several other states are temporarily suspended. Those voting rights are restored upon release from prison. Inmates in the state were able to vote until a 2000 ballot question passed rendering voting from prison illegal. Measures that would reverse that order have thus far been defeated.

  • #47. New Hampshire

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 3,031 (0.3% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 2,856
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 175
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 1,066,610

    New Hampshire joins Massachusetts, more than a dozen other states, and Washington D.C. in disallowing those presently incarcerated from voting, but restoring those rights following release. A 2019 law in the state sought to keep formerly incarcerated individuals better aware of their voting rights.

  • #46. North Dakota

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 2,178 (0.4% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 2,042
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 136
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 583,001

    North Dakotans automatically lose the right to vote in elections upon a felony conviction being delivered. They regain the right to vote in elections as soon as they finish their prison terms.

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  • #45. Utah

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 7,669 (0.4% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 6,925
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 744
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 2,083,423

    Any individual with a felony is allowed to vote in Utah upon completion of a prison sentence or while paroled or on probation. Former felons in Utah are also permitted to run for office.

  • #44. Rhode Island

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 3,355 (0.4% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 3,355
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 0
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 845,254

    In 2016, Rhode Island passed a constitutional amendment that did away with disenfranchising the state’s citizens who were on parole or probation. Today, those with felonies are allowed to vote following their prison terms.

  • #43. Maryland

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 21,465 (0.5% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 20,378
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 1,087
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 4,658,175

    While those convicted of felonies get their voting rights reinstated following prison terms, anyone who has been convicted of buying or selling votes cannot have their voting rights reinstated. The current rules were put into place in 2016, when the Maryland General Assembly overrode a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan that reinstated voting rights only following an entire sentence including parole or probation.

  • #42. Oregon

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 14,748 (0.5% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 14,228
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 519
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 3,166,121

    Pre-trial detainees, those completing sentences for misdemeanors, or those on parole or probation are all allowed to vote in Oregon. Those incarcerated for felonies have their voting rights revoked; upon completion of a prison sentence, individuals must re-register to have their voting rights restored.

  • #41. Illinois

    - Total disenfranchised voters in 2016: 49,625 (0.5% of voting-age population)
    --- Prison: 47,537
    --- Parole: 0
    --- Felony probation: 0
    --- Jail: 2,089
    --- Post-sentence: 0
    - 2016 voting-age population: 9,901,322

    As soon as individuals in Illinois are convicted of a felony, their voting rights are revoked temporarily, but restored upon the completion of a prison term for that felony. An amendment to the state’s Election Code that became effective in January makes it possible for eligible voters in county jail to cast mail-in ballots and requires polling stations be erected in county jails.

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