Va. one of strictest states in felon voting rights

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – With the presidential election only months away, things continue to heat up in the race to the White House. However, a new study finds there are millions of Americans who won’t be allowed to vote.

A new report estimates that nearly 6 million Americans will not be voting because they’ve been convicted of a felony. That translates into 2.5 percent of the U.S. voting age population.

The Sentencing Project, a D.C. advocacy group that pushes for voter restoration, conducted the report by breaking down the disenfranchisement numbers state by state for the year 2010.

The report finds that in Virginia one in five African Americans has lost the right to vote because of a felony. That is one of the highest rates in the country and trails behind Florida (23 percent) and Kentucky (22 percent).

Art Spitzer, with the ACLU for the District, says in D.C. former convicts who finish their sentences get their voting rights back automatically.

The same is true for Maryland after a 2007 bill signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley that restores the right to vote for convicted felons who have finished their sentences and are off parole.

But Virginia does not automatically restore voting rights to felons, that has to be done by the governor.

Read the full report following this link

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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