STATEMENT: Felony Disenfranchisement Laws Should be Repealed

Release Date: 
November 24, 2003

New York, NY — Demos has published two new reports which provide compelling research, analysis, and timely information on felony disenfranchisement laws, and their impact on American democracy.

In "Punishing at the Polls: The Case against Disenfranchising Citizens with Felony Convictions," political scientist Alec Ewald sheds new light on the fundamentally undemocratic nature of felony disenfranchisement laws. Tracing the history of these laws from ancient Europe to their racist application in the post-Civil War U.S., Ewald systematically critiques the arguments marshaled in favor of felony disenfranchisement. He concludes that felony disenfranchisement laws are in profound conflict with America's best ideals of fairness and traditions of democracy.

"Democracy Denied," a new Demos briefing paper, focuses on the disproportionate impact of disenfranchisement laws on communities of color in the United States today. The brief examines the relationship between criminal justice practices that disproportionately target people of color, and disenfranchisement laws that deprive citizens convicted of felonies of their right to vote.

"The right to vote in a democracy is among the most precious of all individual rights," noted George W. Bush and others in their arguments to the Supreme Court in 2000. Yet, upwards of 800,000 citizens in Florida alone were legally barred from voting because of felony convictions in that same election. These citizens were disproportionately from communities of color and were among some 4.7 million U.S. adults now barred from voting because of felony convictions.

Available for comment and interviews are:
The author of Punishing at the Polls, Alec Ewald,
Demos' Democracy Program Director Steven Carbó, and
Jazz Hayden, Director of the New York City Voter Restoration Campaign and lead plaintiff in Hayden v. Pataki.

View Punishing At The Polls

View Democracy Denied

Demos is a nonpartisan public policy and advocacy organization focusing on issues of democracy and economic opportunity.

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