The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

New Report: 4.6 million Americans barred from voting due to felony convictions

Draconian state laws will prevent 4.6 million Americans from voting in 2022 midterms


Today, The Sentencing Project released a new report which found that 4.6 million people, or one in every 50 adults, will be barred from voting in the 2022 midterms due to a felony conviction. Three out of four of the people disenfranchised are living in their communities, having fully completed their sentences or remaining supervised while on probation or parole.

"While many states have taken steps to expand the right to vote to people with felony convictions, this report makes it clear that millions of our citizens will remain voiceless in the upcoming midterms," said Amy Fettig, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project. "Felony disenfranchisement is just the latest in a long line of attempts to restrict ballot access, just like poll taxes, literacy tests and property requirements were used in the past. It is time for our country to guarantee the right to vote for people with felony convictions."

The report also found that:

  • One in 19 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate 3.5 times greater than that of non-African Americans.
  • More than one in 10 African American adults is disenfranchised in eight states - Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  • Although data on ethnicity in correctional populations are still unevenly reported, the report conservatively estimates that at least 506,000 Latinx Americans or - or 1.7 percent of the voting eligible population - are disenfranchised.
  • Approximately 1,000,000 women are disenfranchised, comprising over one-fifth of the total disenfranchised population.

"Despite state-level reforms and the hard work of voting rights advocates, millions of Americans remain disenfranchised, representing 2% of the voting eligible population," said Christopher Uggen, co-author of the report. "In this election year, the question of specific voting restrictions, the broader issue of voter suppression, and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, should be front and center on the public agenda."

The report also found that although half of U.S. states have scaled back voting restrictions for people with felony convictions, several others - particularly Southeastern states - have retained such restrictions, and their disenfranchised populations have increased commensurate with the expansion of the criminal legal system.

"The fact that one out of every 50 adults is disenfranchised due to a felony conviction is unacceptable," said Nicole D. Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy of The Sentencing Project. "Recent polling clearly shows that the majority of Americans who are likely voters support guaranteeing voting rights for all justice-impacted citizens. It's time for lawmakers to listen to the will of their constituents."

The report, "Locked Out 2022: Estimates of People Denied Voting Rights Due to a Felony Conviction," updates and expands on research The Sentencing Project released in 2020 analyzing the scope of felony disenfranchisement, as well as the state-level distribution of laws that ban people with previous felony convictions from voting.

The report is co-authored by Christopher Uggen (University of Minnesota), Ryan Larson (Hamline University), Sarah Shannon (University of Georgia), and Robert Stewart (University of Maryland).

The full report is available here.

The Sentencing Project is a leader in changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment. The Sentencing Project promotes effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.

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