Felon Voting Rights Conflict Hits Federal Court

Hayden, director of Unlock the Block, a New York-based campaign for felon voting rights, said the case for a link between incarceration and race was irrefutable. "The fact that [there is] racial discrimination in the criminal justice system is a slam dunk," he said. "There's no question about that." Yet if the case proceeds to trial, the plaintiffs' arguments will also seek to connect disenfranchisement to deeper social problems tied to racial inequality, from failing public schools to racial profiling by police. "We look at the lack of affordable housing and employment, and all the rest of that. I think we can make our case," Hayden said.
 
One of the most controversial state-level issues that arose with the debates over the fairness of recent elections is reaching the higher courts as convicted felons and ex-convicts demand the right to engage in the political system.