When most felons go to prison they lose their right to vote in most of the 50 states, the strongest exceptions being Maine and Vermont, reported Mother Jones.
Depending on what you were convicted for, states like Mississippi, Alaska and Alabama let some of their prison population vote.
Volunteers at the Maine and Vermont prisons come into the facilities to register prisoners to vote and give them encouragement, by letting them know that their vote is very important.
Law librarian John Sughrue, who works at one of Vermont’s prisons, thinks that voting is imperative, the only “effective tool” prisoners have. Yet he noted that only a small percent of the population exercise their right to vote.
“It seems the current political climate has rendered us inexorably divided,” he wrote via the prison email system.
Madeline Motta, who volunteers in Vermont’s prisons and helps register prisoners to vote, said of her effort that most of the prisoners are their own worst enemies, according to the article.
“We explained to inmates that elected officials are making decisions about your quality of life both while you are incarcerated and once you are out,” she noted.
More variables need to be looked at as to why those who are incarcerated and can vote, don’t vote. They feel that their votes will not make a difference. A high percentage of the inmates cannot read or write, so filling out a registration ballot becomes an issue. Since they are cut off from the Internet, most can’t get news or form opinions about issues or candidates.
“We don’t have much of a democracy when it comes to candidate choice,” he said. “Making the conscious choice in refraining from exercising your rights is just as important as exercising them,” Wright told the Mother Jones reporter.
Just like outside on the streets, inside prison walls you have voter apathy among the incarcerated.
Several states are working on solutions that will allow the incarcerated to vote or get back their voting privileges/rights once out of prison.
Ten states and Washington, D.C., are currently trying to pass legislation to get prisoners the right to vote while in jail, according to Mother Jones.