By Pavan Potti
WASHINGTON D.C. – Recent studies released by the Sentencing Project—designed to calculate the scope of disenfranchisement—estimated that approximately 5.2 million people will be prohibited from voting in the 2020 Presidential elections.
Yet, the same disenfranchisement laws which have gravely impacted the African American community in the past have, for the first time, shown a deep impact on the Latinx Community.
Disenfranchisement laws are most popular in Southern States and have been in use in full swing since the Jim Crow era, when various different voting laws were passed, all with the intent of limiting political power and choice in the African American community.
“The bedrock of any democracy is the right to vote,” said The Sentencing Project’s executive director, Amy Fettig. “Laws that exclude people from voting have destabilized communities and families in America for decades by denying them a voice in determining their futures. Voting is a vital responsibility of citizenship that must be encouraged and defended.”
Today, these laws have proven to be a huge hurdle for minority communities which continue their struggle for representation, studies indicate.
Within the Black American community, one out of every 16 are prohibited from voting due to a previously attained felony. In comparison, only one out of 59 voters face this restriction in the non-Black community.
Most recently, it has been revealed by studies that Latinx communities are also dealing with having their voting rights getting stripped away. Studies have indicated that over 560,000 Latin Americans (or two percent of the voting population) have been disenfranchised.
This is even though, over the last 25 years, more than 50 percent of states have reformed and changed laws, allowing for more people with felony convictions to be able to vote.
Generally, people have supported giving the right to vote back to people with felonies.
According to University of Minnesota professor Christopher Uggen, “ A significant number of Americans favor restoring voting rights to people who have either completed their sentences, or are living in the community while on probation or parole. Voting rights should be restored to 75 percent of the disenfranchised if the American people’s voice was heard and respected.”
Yet, there are still some remaining Southern states that have stood firm in their Jim Crow system. States such as Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi still see more than seven percent of their population unable to vote because of disenfranchisement laws.
Further, studies have shown that many women continue to remain disenfranchised. Currently, 1.2 million women are disenfranchised.
Unless new change arises, The Sentencing Project maintains that the foundation of U.S. democracy will continue to be threatened.
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