Restoring voting rights to millions
These tactics were not confined to the South.
Our recent report shows that starting in the 18th century, the history of New York’s election laws follows the national narrative.
As African Americans gained freedom with the gradual end of
slavery, New York’s voting qualifications – including criminal
disenfranchisement laws – became increasingly more restrictive.
The voting bar in the current New York constitution is nearly
identical to the one enacted 140 years ago, and it continues to have
its intended effects: 80% of those currently disenfranchised in New
York due to a felony conviction are African-American or Latino.
Support to end felony disenfranchisement laws has been steadily building
across the country, crossing party lines and challenging stereotypes.
In the last decade,
21 states have restored voting rights or eased the restoration process.
Many of these recent reforms came about under Republican governors.
in the law enforcement, criminal justice and faith communities are also speaking out in favor of restoring voting rights to people who are living in the community.
Some of these voices of reform have been invited to testify
before Congress today. Among those testifying will be
Carl Wicklund, Executive Director of the American Probation and Parole Association;
Burt Neuborne, an NYU Law Professor and Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice;
Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau;
Ion Sancho, Supervisor for Elections in Leon County, Florida; and
Andres Idarraga, a Yale law student who voted for the first time
in 2008 after having his voting rights restored by a change to Rhode
Island’s felony disenfranchisement law.
For too long 4 million Americans have been denied a vote, and
a voice, in our country. Today we urge Congress to listen carefully, and to restore our democracy.