This felony voter disenfranchisement issue has been on the table for a while and honestly in the past got little attention. People who have been convicted of a non-felony crime should not believe that they don't have the right to vote. In Houston for at least the 5 years (probably more), there has been a low-key campaign to advise non felon ex-convicts in the black community that they do indeed have the right to vote. I believe that this would indeed change the balance of power at state and federal elections.
The real problem, though, is that MOST convictions for Black people ARE deemed "felonies"!!! And it's those with the stigma of the term "felons" who are disenfranchised in these states.
The hook here comes from the total and complete unfairness of determining that basically trivial laws .... such as drug violations and especially NON-VIOLENT crimes - which are the ones most Black people get saddled with - are prosecuted as a "felony" instead of a misdemeanor or basic state criminal or civil law!!
Because a "felony" is considered the most serious kind of crime .... White/racist/discriminating states make the least serious crimes a felony ... and effectively cut those people out of the voting/society-in-general process. Some of them for life!
Some states do offer a process that a so-called "felon" can go through to get their rights restored ... but, it's often a long and tedious thing that a lot of ex-inmates don't even think about or want to put themselves through!!
But ... especially for us ... we need to do more to convince them to 'get back in the game' ... whatever they have to do to make that happen!! AND to support legislation and organizations (of which there are several now) that are working to get those currently being kept out of the system back into it after they've fully 'paid their dues to society'!!
Because it IS important. And we ARE missing out on LARGE numbers of crucial votes/voices/support that would help us as a community be able to do some of the things we need to do!