The 2 Million Swing State Voters Who Won’t Be Voting Today

by | November 6, 2012

This new infographic from the Prison Policy Initiative shows the impact of felon disenfranchisement laws. While most states forbid people to vote while they are in prison, and many extend that ban to people on parole, only a handful make it next to impossible to regain your right to vote if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony. Even after you’ve served your time, it’s likely you’ll never vote again. Among these are two key swing states, Florida and Virginia, where some 2 million people are permanently disenfranchised.

According to PPI’s data, a full 9 percent of Florida’s voting-age population is disenfranchised because they have at one time been incarcerated. In Virginia, the figure is 6 percent. Given that a disproportionate number of disenfranchised ex-felons are people of color, and that Obama polls far ahead of Mitt Romney in the black and Latino communities, it’s not hard to deduce which candidate the missing votes would favor. The results of this election may therefore hinge on the denial of a basic right to men and women who have long since paid their debt to society, but remain permanently excluded from the democratic process. (For more on this subject, see our recent article on Mother Jones.)

Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

James Ridgeway (1936-2021) was the founder and co-director of Solitary Watch. An investigative journalist for over 60 years, he served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice and Mother Jones, reporting domestically on subjects ranging from electoral politics to corporate malfeasance to the rise of the racist far-right, and abroad from Central America, Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, Haiti, and the former Yugoslavia. Earlier, he wrote for The New Republic and Ramparts, and his work appeared in dozens of other publications. He was the co-director of two films and author of 20 books, including a forthcoming posthumous edition of his groundbreaking 1991 work on the far right, Blood in the Face. Jean Casella is the director of Solitary Watch. She has also published work in The Guardian, The Nation, and Mother Jones, and is co-editor of the book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. She has received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. She tweets @solitarywatch.

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2 comments

  • lockdownpublishing

    The politicians are pretty criminal… They control the vote…

  • Joe Schmo

    Most of us learn in school that a felony results in loss of right to vote. The obvious answer would be “don’t commit a felony.” Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

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