Op-ed: America steals votes from felons

Writing for the Guardian former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold says that millions of American citizens are prevented from voting by discriminatory state laws that disenfranchise people with a felony conviction.

The right to vote is the most fundamental right of any democracy, granting it legitimacy as a means of government by instilling power in the people and not in politicians. It ensures “consent of the governed” and holds government accountable to the people: not law-abiding people, or moral people, or any other qualifier, but the people.

This most fundamental right is not and never has been about rewarding good citizens or even law-abiding citizens. It is not a luxury or a reward, handed out by the government as it sees fit. It is a right, and should not be conditioned on anything more than citizenship, and being of voting age.

With approximately 6.1 million Americans affected by felon disenfranchisement laws, some states are reconsidering their laws.

The Nebraska Legislature passed a bill this year that would have restored felon voting rights immediately after they complete their sentence, but Gov.Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill.

 

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