Article: Locked Up to Disenfranchize

Suppression of the Black vote has been a flashpoint since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision opened the door for historically racist regions mostly in the South to pass anti-voter laws such as ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor people–who happen to overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The GOP is happily charging ahead with such measures.But a robust counteroffensive is underway, buoyed by the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Speakers such as Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter marked the occasion by highlighting voter suppression as a serious challenge facing minorities. Meanwhile, legal challenges by the Justice Department and pressure from civil rights and grassroots groups has forced a break within GOP ranks. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner R-Wis. challenged his party to join him in restoring the Voting Rights Act, which he calls “an effective tool to prevent discrimination.”This focus on stopping anti-voter bills, though laudable, should not obscure the struggle to address a more insidious instrument of voter suppression. With the exception of Maine and Vermont, all states disenfranchise felons for some time during or after incarceration . Because African Americans are disproportionately represented among convicted felons, this has a real impact on electoral outcomes. The Sentencing Project reported that 600,000 former felons were ineligible to vote in Florida in 2000; they could have swung the election to Al Gore. A study by sociologists Chris Uggen and Jeff Manza found that former felons could have changed the outcomes of seven U.S Senate elections between 1978 and 2000.

via OpEdNews – Article: Locked Up to Disenfranchize.

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