Felon disenfranchisement is the loss of voting rights by a citizen who has been convicted of a felony. Some form of felon disenfranchisement exists in most states. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the Fourteenth Amendment permits state felon disenfranchisement laws. Therefore, a wholesale challenge to disenfranchisement policies would likely prove unsuccessful. This Comment provides a comprehensive look at felon disenfranchisement laws, particularly voter restoration processes in states that have the most oppressive and confusing policies. It addresses the two options for restoring the voting rights of ex-felons: (1) the pardon and clemency power, or (2) automatic restoration after completion of a sentence. This Comment will provide an overview of felon disenfranchisement policies, including the history of disenfranchising felons, the current practices of disenfranchisement, and the challenges to these policies. It will also examine the history of voter restoration practices, which originate from the gubernatorial pardoning power, and explore recent trends to impede ex-felons’ voter restoration in certain states.
Civil Rebirth: Making the Case for Automatic Ex-Felon Voter Restoration
Volume 89, No. 2, Winter 2017