Most remarkably, in fourteen states, ex-offenders who have fully served their sentences nonetheless remain disenfranchised. Ten of these states disenfranchise ex-felons for life: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wyoming. Arizona and Maryland disenfranchise permanently those convicted of a second felony; and Tennessee and Washington disenfranchise permanently those convicted prior to 1986 and 1984, respectively. In addition, in Texas, a convicted felon's right to vote is not restored until two years after discharge from prison, probation or parole.
Disenfranchisement of ex-felons is imposed even if the offender was convicted of a relatively minor crime or even if the felon was never incarcerated. For example, Abran Ramirez was denied the ability to vote for life in California because of a twenty-year old robbery conviction, even though he had served only three months in jail and had successfully completed ten years of parole. Sanford McLaughlin was disenfranchised for life in Mississippi because he pled guilty to the misdemeanor of passing a bad $150 check. As Andrew Shapiro, an attorney who has closely studied criminal disenfranchisement, points out, "an eighteen-year-old first-time offender who trades a guilty plea for a lenient nonprison sentence (as almost all first-timers do, whether or not they are guilty) may unwittingly sacrifice forever his right to vote." Federal Judge Henry Wingate aptly described the political fate of the disenfranchised:quote:
The disenfranchised is severed from the body politic and condemned to the lowest form of citizenship, where voiceless at the ballot box...the disinherited must sit idly by while others elect his civil leaders and while others choose the fiscal and governmental policies which will govern him and his family.
Barwick: Suppose that you want to know the % of Black men who are currently barred from voting in some state. Just look at the number in the 4th column. For example, in Florida 31.2% of Black men are barred from voting. That's almost 1/3! And that doesn't even include those who were taken off of the lists in "error". (BTW, in Florida, like the state of Iowa, where I live, if you are disenfranchised, it is for life!)
Felony disenfranchisement is the modern day equivilant of other ostensibly race-neutral voting barriers of the past, such as literacy and property tests, and poll taxes.
"La vida te da sorpresas...
Sorpresas te da la vida...",
RubÃ©n Blades---Pedro Navaja