Demand Congress Restore Voting Rights For Former Felons
2,968 signatures toward our 30,000 Goal
Sponsor: The Hunger Site
Millions of reformed convicts have already served their time. Why are we still denying them their constitutional right to vote?
Voting is fundamental to democracy, both in America and representative governments around the globe. Our founding fathers felt so strongly about this issue that voting rights are repeatedly mentioned throughout the U.S. constitution.1
But despite its promise of universal suffrage, which “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” as per the 15th amendment, our country has failed to extend this basic privilege to all U.S. citizens.2
That’s because people lose their right to vote once they’re convicted of a felony and–-even after they’ve completed their sentences --they don't always get them back.3 This injustice makes the U.S. unique among other democracies, which restore voting rights to former convicts upon the completion of their prison terms.4
These discriminatory tactics also disproportionally target individuals, family, and communities of color. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 13 percent of African American men have been disenfranchised in the wake of felony convictions,5 which often stem from non-violent drug charges. This doesn't suggest Black men are more lawless or violent than White men, only that they’re stopped, arrested, and convicted in much higher numbers.
A 2018 survey of FBI data found Black suspects are arrested 5 times more often than White suspects, thus leading to higher numbers of felony convictions.6 Under the current system, millions of felons are then subsequently stripped of their right to vote -- even after they’ve completed their sentences and successfully re-entered society.5
The good news is that some states have taken steps to correct this type of voter suppression, which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has deemed a human rights violation.4 The Democracy Restoration Act will restore voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentences, allowing them to vote in federal elections. But DRA does more than just restore privileges already granted by the U.S. constitution. It will also strengthen our democracy, promote civil rights, and simplify a patchwork of laws that allow 31 states to systematically disenfranchise former felons. 7,8
Please sign the petition to demand that Congress passes the Democracy Restoration Act. The United States is proud to be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” but our democracy can’t work when millions of citizens are routinely deprived of their constitutional right to vote.
- “What Does the Constitution Actually Say About Voting Rights?” The Atlantic, August 19, 2013
- “15th Amendment, Right to Vote Not Denied by Race,” National Constitution Center, Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870
- “In Prison, and Fighting to Vote,” The Atlantic, Sept. 6, 2019
- “Incarcerated People Must Be Heard,” Jacobin, March 23, 2020
- “Voting Rights Restoration,” Brennan Center for Justice, May 4, 2018
- “Black people 5 times more likely to be arrested than whites, according to new analysis,” The Hill, June 11, 2020
- “Democracy Restoration Act,” Brennan Center for Justice, August 8, 2019
- “Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws Across the United States,” Brennan Center for Justice, August 5, 2020
To members of U.S. Congress,
We are Americans, and rightly proud of our country's promise of justice, equality, and freedom. But our government falls far short of these democratic ideals when it fails to provide constitutional rights to all of its citizens, namely the millions of former felons who've completed their sentences and re-entered society, but remain permanently stripped of their right to vote.
In addition to undercutting our country’s so-called values, this glaring hypocrisy also amplifies America's underlying social ills. This is because felon disenfranchisement disproportionality targets communities of color, thus suppressing minority voices, cheapening our democracy, and causing our country's racial disparities to only grow.
We’ve signed this petition to demand that you immediatley pass the Democracy Restoration Act, which will restore voting rights to millions of Americans who’ve served their time, paid their debts to society, and now deserve a second chance to make their voices heard.