NEW YORK — Last week the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) released Free the Vote: Unlocking Democracy in the Cells and on the Streets, a report detailing the impact felon disfranchisement laws have on communities of color nationwide.
“Securing the right to vote for the disfranchised – persons who have lost their voting rights as a result of a felony conviction – is the next phase of the voting rights movement,” said Ryan P. Haygood, Co-Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group.
LDF’s report details that more than 5.3 million Americans who have been convicted of a felony are denied access to the one fundamental right that is the foundation of all other rights. Nearly 2 million, or 38%, of the disfranchised are African Americans. Moreover,
• A staggering 1.5 million Black males, or 13% of all African-American men in this country – and in some states up to one-third of the entire African-American male population – are denied the right to vote.
• Given current rates of incarceration, an astonishing one in three of the next generation of Black men will be disfranchised at some point during their lifetime.
• In Alabama, one in three Black men have been disqualified from voting as a result of a felony conviction.
• In Washington State, 24% of Black men, and 15% of the entire Black population, are denied their voting rights.
• In New York, though Blacks and Latinos collectively comprise only 30% of the State’s overall population, they represent an astonishing 87% of those denied the right to vote because of a felony conviction.
“Regrettably, more than a century after emancipation, and in the 45th anniversary year of the Voting Rights Act, increasing numbers of Blacks and Latinos nationwide are actually losing their right to vote each day, rather than experiencing greater access to political participation,” continued Haygood.