Approximately 2.1 million ex-offenders, who have served their sentences, are denied the right to vote in the United States. According to an ACLU study, 62,324 people with felony convictions in Wisconsin are not allowed to vote; however, 61% of these people are no longer incarcerated.
Wisconsin law states that ex-offenders are allowed to vote after they have completed their parole or probationary periods. During these periods, these citizens are being denied the right to vote even though they may be holding jobs, paying taxes, and attempting to become an active part of society again. The right to vote should not be denied to ex-offenders who are on probation/parole.
These individuals have served their time and thus their right to vote should be restored when they are deemed eligible to become part of society. By not allowing them to vote, we are hindering their ability to reinstate themselves as active members of the community.
This disenfranchisement also disproportionately affects African American males and other minority populations. An ACLU study found that one out of nine African Americans males are disenfranchised because of Wisconsin’s ex-offender laws. This statistic places Wisconsin 11th in the nation for the disenfranchisement of African American voters. While ex-offender disenfranchisement has a negative effect on all parolees/probationers it is adversely affecting one minority portion of Wisconsin’s population.
According to Senator Russ Feingold, ‘’¦the more doors we close on people trying to rejoin society, the more likely it is we will drive them back to the behaviors we want them to leave behind.’
The ultimate intent of incarceration is social reform. Therefore, if we deny ex-offenders the fundamental right to vote we impede their ability to become members of the community again.