New Paper: Challenging Felon Disenfranchisement Law


Here at Pennsylvanians for Fair Elections, we want to keep you posted not only on current events related to elections and election rights, but also academic and other scholarly reports dealing with these matters.

Today, we wanted to share details of a new paper titled, “A Pragmatic Approach to Challenging Felon Disenfranchisement Law.” The piece was written by Avner Shapiro and published Jan. 17.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

“Felon disenfranchisement is a longstanding practice in most of our 50 states, but its scope has dramatically expanded in recent decades due to the ‘War on Drugs’ and the resulting system of mass criminalization.

People of color have been disproportionately impacted by felon disenfranchisement laws, with African Americans representing more than one third of the 6.1 million whose right to vote has been taken away.

While several courts have considered whether felon disenfranchisement laws violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because of these racial disparities, and one such challenge is pending right now in a federal court in Alabama, so far courts have been reluctant to use Section 2 to to strike them down.

In this Issue Brief, Avner Shapiro analyzes why “courts would be more receptive to an as-applied Section 2 lawsuit focusing only on disenfranchised African-American ex-felons convicted of low-level, non-violent drug offenses.”

Interested in reading more? The full text is available at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

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