Conyers Leads Worthy Effort to Extend Voting Rights

Jeff Gerritt, Detroit Free Press, August 6, 2009

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, both Democrats, recently introduced bills to restore voting rights, in federal elections, to nearly 4 million Americans who have served time in prison and are now in the community. {snip}

Nationwide, nearly 2 million African Americans are disenfranchised because of state laws, some of which impose on ex-prisoners lifetime bans on voting. These laws, which bar 13% of all African American men from voting, are vestiges of Jim Crow.

The bills, called the Democracy Restoration Act of 2009, would not impact Michigan directly. Former prisoners in Michigan already have the right to vote when they leave prison, though they can’t vote while incarcerated. But 35 other states continue to restrict the voting rights of people who are no longer in prison or are on probation.

{snip} Most ex-prisoners would probably vote Democratic, though I’ve also talked to some pretty conservative guys in prison, including a couple with swastikas tattooed on their arms.

{snip}

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