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ACLU Comment on Introduction of Democracy Restoration Act of 2014
WASHINGTON – The Democracy Restoration Act, important legislation that seeks to restore voting rights in federal elections to millions of disfranchised Americans, was introduced today in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).
This bill would establish a uniform standard, restoring voting rights in federal elections for millions of American citizens who are not incarcerated, but denied their right to vote because of a criminal conviction. Criminal disfranchisement laws, which vary from state to state, prevent an estimated 5.85 million citizens from voting as a result of criminal convictions, and more than 4 million of those have been released from prison. These laws, many of which proliferated in the Jim Crow era, disproportionally impact minority citizens.
The following is a statement from Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU senior legislative counsel and co-chair of the Democracy Restoration Act Coalition:
"Millions of American citizens have lost their voting rights because of criminal disfranchisement laws and have returned to our communities to live, work, pay taxes, and raise families – but are without a political voice. People of color have been particularly hard hit. Nationwide, one in 13 African Americans has lost the right to vote. The Democracy Restoration Act will ensure that the government does not endorse a system that expects citizens to contribute to the community while denying them their rights as Americans to participate in our democracy."
The Democracy Restoration Act has been endorsed by a broad coalition of groups, including religious organizations, law enforcement, and civil rights and social justice organizations.
See PDF for: A Democracy Restoration Act fact sheet.
April 10, 2014