Across the United States, many formerly incarcerated people face a variety of setbacks in their pursuit of voting rights.
Some state governments are seeking to restrict voting rights for ex-felons, The New York Times reported.
The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature has effectively nullified a citizen ballot initiative granting voting rights to a large number of former felons in 2020.
In March, Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin rescinded a policy of automatically restoring votes to former felons.
Other states have questioned or overturned citizen ballot initiatives granting voting rights to former felons, the story said.
On the other side of the voting coin, Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, a Democrat, signed legislation that expands voting rights for former felons and the New Mexico State Legislature, also led by Democratic, enacted a similar law, according to article.
Virginia is the only state in the nation that disenfranchises anyone that commits a felony, the story said.
“We’d reached a point for the first time in recent memory, maybe ever, where there was not a single state in the country that disenfranchised everyone,” said Sean Morales Doyle, director of the voting rights program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “It’s disappointing that on an issue in Virginia that had gotten support from both sides of the aisle, they do seem to be taking a step backwards.”
Minnesota and North Carolina each gave 56,000 former felons the vote, but Florida negated the ballot initiative that affected up to 934,000 formerly-incarcerated residents.
In Virginia, former governors had granted upwards of 300,000 former felons the right to vote. Two Democratic governors, Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam, expanded that policy to include anyone freed from prison.
That was the policy eliminated by Virginia Gov. Youngkin, but it did not affect previous beneficiaries. Virginia has a long history of suppressing Blacks’ right to vote, dating back to 1902, according to the article.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear now automatically restores voting rights for persons convicted of nonviolent crimes. California restores voting rights upon a person’s release from incarceration due to felony conviction.