Felony Disenfranchisement

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From Today’s (9/11) New York Times OP-ED page.

“It has been decades since federal laws overturned the literacy tests and poll taxes that were the most blatant forms of discrimination barring black people from voting in Southern states. But even today, felony disenfranchisement is an enormous obstacle to voting for black people in the Deep South. These laws are the worst in the free world. The process for restoring voting rights for people who have been convicted of crimes can be so byzantine that officials don’t know who is eligible. The confusion bars some eligible voters from the polls for life.

Felony disenfranchisement is at bottom a practice thoroughly grounded in antebellum racism that attempts to dilute or prevent minorites, primarily African Americans from voting.

The Sentecing Project tells us that an estimated 5.3 million Americans are currently either currently or permanently disenfranchised.  Moreover, more than 13% of African American men, or 1.4 million brotha’s have been disenfranchised.  

It is time for the States that permanently disenfranchise felons to step into the twenty-first century and cast off the chains of antebellum racism.  The fight for civil rights in the United States is not over. 

The issue of felony disenfranchisement is still an appalling reality that confederate state chief executives need to confront head on and end.  It is time for Governors Riley,Bush, and Kaine to issue executive orders and abolish the practice of permanent felony disenfranchisement.   To do any less is to allow the lingering and festering wounds of racism to continue to undermine our democracy.

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