Bloomberg by the Numbers: 5.85 Million

A voter on Nov. 6, 2012.

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

A voter on Nov. 6, 2012.

About 5.85 million Americans are blocked from voting because of felony convictions, according to the Council of State Governments.

Voting rights for felons varies by state. In 37 states, felons can vote only after they’ve served part of all of their sentences. Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote while incarcerated, according to a CSG brief. Other states have tougher laws.

Among those advocating a restoration of voting rights to ex-convicts is Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I call upon state leaders and other elected officials and leaders across this country to pass clear and consistent reforms to restore the voting rights of all who have served their terms in prison or jail, completed their parole or probation and paid their fines,” Holder said in February, as Bloomberg’s Del Quentin Wilber reported at the time.

Also pushing for changes is Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and potential presidential candidate whose state is one of three that “authorize permanent voting restrictions for all felons,” according to CSG. In those states, felons seeking a restoration of their voting rights have to file a formal application or secure a pardon.

“It’s an important issue. When you look at who is being deprived of voting they are disproportionately people of color,” Paul told a Kentucky state Senate panel in February.


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