Feingold, Conyers Continue Effort to Restore Voting Rights for Millions of Americans

For Immediate Release

US Senator Russ Feingold
Contact: 

Zach Lowe (202) 224-8657

Feingold, Conyers Continue Effort to Restore Voting Rights for Millions of Americans

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and House Judiciary Committee
Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) are continuing their effort to restore voting
rights for million of Americans.  Feingold and Conyers reintroduced the
Democracy Restoration Act, legislation that would reinstate the right to vote
in federal elections for millions of Americans with a conviction in their past
who are out of prison, living in the community.  In America today,
more than five million citizens are unable to vote due a felony conviction,
nearly three-quarters of whom are no longer in prison.  Feingold and
Conyers' bill would allow these Americans to exercise their right to vote
if they are no longer incarcerated.

"Voting
helps to build a sense of civic responsibility and commitment to community;
denying this fundamental right does nothing to help people with a conviction in
their past become better citizens," Senator
Feingold said
.  "The expansion of voting rights to the
poor, women, minorities and young people is one of the greatest stories in our
country's history.  We should continue this legacy by expanding the
right to vote to those who have fully paid their debt to society."

"There
is a growing nationwide movement to restore voting rights to people who are out
of prison, living in the community.  Those calling for change include law
enforcement officers, religious leaders and elections officials," said Erika Wood, Director of the Right to Vote Project at
the Brennan Center
for Justice at New York
University.
 
"The Democracy Restoration Act will eliminate the last blanket barrier to
the franchise in our country."

Feingold and
Conyers' bill builds on a growing enfranchisement movement.  In the
last decade, 20 states have reformed their laws to expand the franchise or ease
voting rights restoration procedures.  Most recently, the state of Washington enacted a law
easing the restoration of voting rights for people who are no longer in
custody.  According to the Brennan
Center for Justice and
the Sentencing Project, 5.3 million American citizens are not allowed to vote
because of a felony conviction. Nearly four million people of them are no
longer, or never were, in prison, and approximately two million have completed
their entire sentence, including probation and parole.

An
electronic copy of this press release is available here: http://feingold.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=316228

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