u.s. senator ben cardin (d-md) and u.s. representative john conyers (d-mi) recently introduced the democracy restoration act. the bill intends to give every citizen the right to vote in federal elections, unless they are incarcerated for a felony at the time the election takes place.
according to information in the socially progressive bill, the variation in state disenfranchisement laws "leads to an unfair disparity and unequal participation in federal elections based solely on where a person lives."
the bill also states about one in every 40 adults in the u.s. presently cannot vote as a result of their felony convictions. of the 5.8 million people are barred from voting due to a felony conviction. only 25% are in prison.
marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project says," you've done your time in prison, now you're living in the community. you're expected to abide by the rules of society, pay your taxes, get a job...it's counter-productive to the community-at-large for us to be essentially treating people like second-class citizens."
the bill also notes state disenfranchisement policies disproportionately impact people of african descent. currently, one in 13 blacks in the u.s. are barred from voting - a rate four times greater than non-black people.
senator barbara mikulski (d-md) said, "from suffragettes through civil rights, expanding access to the ballot box in america has always been a move in the right direction. disenfranchising former offenders does a disservice to the very idea of democracy. if an american citizen has paid their debt to society after committing a crime, our focus must be on the rehabilitation and full reintegration into society - voting rights and all."
conversely, last month, u.s. senator rand paul (r-ky) and u.s. senate minority leader harry reid (d-nv) introduced the bipartisan civil rights voting restoration act. this bill would restore voting rights only for people convicted of non-federal crimes.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. email@example.com.