Mother Jones: "According to the Sentencing Project, a criminal-justice research and advocacy organization, more than 5.8 million people across the country with felony convictions on their records will not be able to vote in November. In 46 states, those with felony convictions are able to get their civil rights restored, including the right to vote, after completing prison or jail time, probation, or the payment of fines, but that takes time. Maine and Vermont allow voting from jail, even for those convicted of felonies. In Virginia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Florida, voting rights for those with felony convictions can only be restored by the governor. The efforts to provide voting rights for felons is one of several voting rights battles preceding this election, including ones over voter ID and cuts to early voting."
"But the battle around voting rights is not new to this election cycle, especially in Virginia. The state's 1870 constitution banned voting by those with felony convictions, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, wrote in a July 19 New York Times op-ed. The laws were explicitly designed to depress the African American vote, and he quoted a turn-of-the-century Virginia state senator saying felon disenfranchisement laws would "eliminate the darkey as a political factor in this State in less than five years…[and ensure] the complete supremacy of the white race in the affairs of government."
"The disparate impact of felon disenfranchisement on racial minorities continues today. African Americans and Latinos experience higher rates of arrest and felony convictions than their white counterparts, according to the ACLU. The Sentencing Project estimates 2.2 million African Americans—7.7 percent of black adults—are disenfranchised due to a felony charge, compared with 1.8 percent for the non-African American population. The group notes that in three states—Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia—more than 20 percent of African Americans are disenfranchised, and in states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40 percent of black men may permanently lose their right to vote."