Amid all the voter suppression techniques that are sabotaging the right of the masses to vote, voter disenfranchisement is the worst way to suppress the voice of the people.
This is because it completely denies the concept of participation by the affected people in the process of the election.
The USA used to systematically disenfranchise voters based on color and gender in the past; however, with the passage of the Fifteenth Constitutional Amendment and women’s suffrage rights, every American has the right to vote now.
Despite getting these rights, voter disenfranchisement is a reality today where many people are denied the right to vote based on color, gender, or felony convictions in the past. How pervasive is this voter disenfranchisement based on felony charges, and how can it affect the 2020 Presidential elections? Let’s have a look.
Is felony conviction a reasonable way for voter disenfranchisement?
The problem with felony disenfranchisement is that most of the people convicted in the past may not have committed crimes. They can be sentenced even for the crimes they never commit.
Therefore, considering felony convictions while enacting the laws of voter disenfranchisement makes no sense. Although the current statistics of felony disenfranchisement are less than those of the 2016 elections, when 6.1 million people had no say in the election, currently, 5.2 million will still have no right to vote in the November 2020 elections.
Voter disenfranchisement on racial grounds:
Those who are denied the right to vote under felony disenfranchisement are mostly people of color, as they are more likely to be convicted than white people. This year’s election will have 2.3% of Americans in general and more than 6% of Black Americans in particular who will have no voice in deciding the next American president.
As a matter of fact, a Black American is more likely to be detained by the police than a white American; hence, the conviction rate of Black people is also higher.
This discrimination on racial grounds is ultimately resulting in Black voter disenfranchisement, who can play a crucial role in deciding the swing states. As these states are typically decided by a matter of only a few thousand votes, the disenfranchisement of these voters is just another technique of the vote suppressors to stop the voice of the masses.
Republican-led states and felony disenfranchisement: An alarming pattern:
The pervasive patterns of voter disenfranchisement on racial grounds are even worse in some of the states. For instance, in Wyoming, almost one in seven African Americans is disenfranchised with no voice in elections. Similarly, in Tennessee, more than 20 percent of Black voters are ineligible to vote due to past convictions.
Unsurprisingly, both of these states are led by Republican governors, and hence the ever-lasting voter suppression strategy of the Republicans is in action once again. Another Republican-led state, Florida, has more than 1.1 million felony disenfranchised voters, out of which almost 0.9 million have already completed their sentence, but still, they will have no say in the upcoming presidential election, making Florida the worst state for voter disenfranchisement.
The most surprising part is that almost 43% of overall disenfranchised voters in America have already completed their sentences. Even if they committed a crime in the past for which they were detained, the negation of the right to vote after completing the sentence is a severe threat to democracy that can encourage the voter suppressors to a great extent.
The biggest problem of all the voter disenfranchisement is that it all comes under the law, therefore requiring efforts on the part of the government that is involved itself in this suppression, making the process extremely difficult to reconcile.
Can felony disenfranchisement have an impact on the result of the 2020 elections?
All eyes are currently on the 2020 presidential elections, as the stage is all set for Americans to cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
Meanwhile, voter suppressors are also finding new ways to abuse the votes of the people. Recently, vote suppressors set the mail-in polling booth in California’s suburbs on fire, resulting in the burning of more than 200 votes.
The pervasive felony disenfranchisement is going to play a significant role in deciding the outcome of the election. Most of the time, the outcome of the swing state is within the margin of 100,000 votes.
The swing states that are promising to show a close contest in the 2020 elections have almost 150 electoral votes in total. With vote suppression happening in the form of disenfranchisement, the election is bound to be affected by the systematic hindrances that are not allowing more than 2.2 million Americans to vote in the presidential elections.
Read more about the Racial Suppression of Votes: How Black people Right to Vote is denied in the USA