The right to vote is a fundamental part of America’s democracy, and the government should not abridge that right lightly. Restoring the right to vote for people who have been disenfranchised strengthens our democracy by increasing voter participation and helping formerly incarcerated people to reintegrate into society. 

Being able to vote in elections is an incredibly important right that should not be denied to someone simply because they were convicted of a crime. More than six million Americans are currently disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, and laws that disenfranchise people because of felony convictions disproportionately disenfranchise Black Americans. In many states, they were in fact intended to have this racist effect; the modern practice of felony disenfranchisement became particularly widespread in the Jim Crow era, and after Reconstruction, white lawmakers codified felony disenfranchisement laws that explicitly targeted Black Americans to diminish their electoral strength.

Mass incarceration, combined with disenfranchisement laws, subverts participatory democracy, particularly for communities of color. Making the restoration process automatic when someone is returning to society, streamlining it, and notifying formerly incarcerated people of their right to vote are the first steps to dismantling these harmful and discriminatory laws. The ACLU of Connecticut encourages the legislature to support this bill, which would restore the voting rights of people who are on parole.

Status

Pending

Session

2018

Bill number

H.B. 5418

Position

Support

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