In Minnesota around 60,000 people are disenfranchised because they have a felony conviction on their record. In Minnesota individuals are not eligible to vote until after they have finished all the terms of their sentence including probation and/or parole. 75% of all individuals barred from voting in Minnesota are living in the community, not behind bars. Despite evidence showing that access to voting actually decreases an individuals’ chances of re-offending many states still follow restrictive voting practices. Nationwide over 2 million people are disenfranchised, in a few states if you have a felony on your record you are never allowed to vote again.
Check out this interactive map from The Pew Charitable Trusts that shows which states have the worst laws.
Here are some interesting facts about voting restoration that you can share with friends and colleagues to explain why you support restoring the right to vote.
- In 2011, of the 63,000 Minnesotans who were unable to vote due to a past criminal conviction, only about 16,000 were behind bars in prison or jail. In other words, 75% of those who have been denied the right to vote under Minnesota law are living in the community, working to earn a wage and support their families and pay taxes like all of us.
- Nearly 6 million American citizens are unable vote because of a past criminal conviction. As many as 4.4 million of these citizens live, work, and raise families in our communities. But because of a conviction in their past they are still denied this fundamental democratic right. These laws, deeply rooted in our troubled racial history, have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Across the country, 13 percent of African-American men have lost their right to vote, which is seven times the national average.
- Since 1974, the percentage of voting age Minnesotans disenfranchised as a result of a criminal conviction has increased over 400%.
- 13 States already allow people to vote upon release – Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah.
- Attorney General Eric Holder is urging states to repeal bans on felons’ voting.
- Kentucky Senator Rand Paul supports restoring voting rights for convicted felons who have completed their sentences in Kentucky.
- The right to vote forms the core of American democracy. A strong, vibrant democracy requires the broadest possible base of voter participation.
- Felony disenfranchisement laws are firmly rooted in the Jim Crow era and were intended to bar minorities from voting. The intended effects of these laws continue today: nationwide 2 million African Americans are disenfranchised.
- Allowing people to vote after release from prison encourages participation in civil life and helps rebuild ties to the community that motivate law-abiding behavior.
- Restoring voting rights to people out of prison eliminates the opportunity for erroneous purges of eligible citizens form the voting rolls and relieves confusion among election officials and the public about who is eligible to vote.
Precinct caucuses are February 4 across the state. You can visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website to find out where your precinct caucus is.
During precinct caucuses individuals have the opportunity to bring forward resolutions about issues they care about, use this opportunity to see if your caucus would support a resolution in support of rights restoration. Bring in copies of our sample Voting Restoration Caucus Resolution to your caucus.
Here is the full text of our resolution:
2014 Caucus Resolution
Restoring the Right to Vote
Whereas, approximately 63,000 Minnesotans are denied the right to vote under Minnesota law due to a past felony conviction and 75% of those individuals are living in the community;
Whereas, since 1974, the percentage of voting age Minnesotans disenfranchised as a result of a criminal conviction has increased over 400%;
Whereas, as a result of disproportionate conviction rates, disenfranchisement overwhelmingly affects communities of color – African-Americans make up roughly five percent of the Minnesota population and represent over a quarter of the total number of those disenfranchised and American Indians, less than two percent of the population, account for more than six percent of those individuals who are disenfranchised;
Whereas, involvement in civic life logically results in stronger ties to the community, and research has shown that persons with past criminal convictions are less likely to be arrested again in states that restore voting rights after release from incarceration;
Whereas, a policy that permits all individuals who have served their time in jail or prison to vote reduces confusion among voters and election officials about who can vote, thereby easing election administration and reducing government costs; and
Whereas, thirteen states already disenfranchise only those persons who are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction, not those on probation or parole.
Therefore, be it resolved that the _____________ Party supports restoring voting rights to Minnesotans convicted of a felony while they are on probation or parole.
If you have any question about how this works or about our resolution you can contact Mark Haase, 612-353-3035, or firstname.lastname@example.org