Almost 6 million Americans are unable to vote due to disenfranchisement laws surrounding prior felony convictions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). No states have a unilateral ban on voting by former felons, but just two states allow currently incarcerated individuals to vote. At the center of the felony voting rights controversy is Florida, where voting rights were restored in 2018 for up to 1.4 million felons who had completed their sentences. But with the presidential election a month away, many of those indviduals remain disenfranchised due to a court order requiring all legal fees to be paid prior to voting rights being restored.
Stacker used data from The Sentencing Project to compile a ranking of states based on how many disenfranchised voters each state had during the 2016 election due to felony convictions. States are ranked according to the percentage of the voting-age population that is disenfranchised, with ties broken by the number of disenfranchised voters in the state.
Felony disenfranchisement is a term describing laws that restrict voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes. Many states have laws that don’t allow convicted felons to vote, and some go as far as not letting felons vote even after they complete their sentences.
Maine and Vermont are tied for #49, as they did not have any disenfranchised voters. For the purposes of this article, voting laws relate to U.S. citizens within each state.
Laws designed to prevent individuals from voting were prevalent throughout the South during the Jim Crow era, widely targeting Black communities with fines, literacy tests, and intimidation tactics. Of more than 6 million felony disenfranchised today because of felonies, almost 40% are Black, though the Black population in the U.S. is a little over 13%.
Keep reading to learn more about the states with the most disenfranchised voters due to felony convictions.
You may also like: Most and least popular senators in America