Chris Bertram has some interesting state-by-state data on disenfranchised felons. Florida easily leads the list, with Alabama and–surprisingly–Virginia in the next two slots. Three states apparently let convicted felons vote.

This is actually an interesting issue. Is there a justification for denying the right to vote to those who have served their criminal sentences? And, given that these people are mostly adult taxpayers, doesn’t this amount to taxation without representation–something about which we were once rather adamantly opposed?

Incidentally, I think the race issue here is a red herring (um, a fish whose species and color are neither here nor there). It’s true that convicted felons disproportionately come from minority groups; it doesn’t follow that this motivated the laws that deny the franchise to convicted felons. And the fact that most of the states that lead the list come from the former Confederacy is hardly surprising; they’re a lot more Old Testament in their approach to law and order.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    I can see no good reason to deny ex-cons the right to vote.

    On the other hand (and an issue often missed by those who get all hot and bothered on the subject): demographically, those folks are probably highly unlikley to vote even if given the franchise (when taken in the aggregate).

  2. Paul says:

    So the Dems are now whining that not enough felons can vote for them… That’s reassuring.