Republican's racist prison policies prevent even those not convicted of a crime from voting.
Illinois conservatives are fighting to keep CASH BAIL, a policy that frees pre-trial, the rich who can pay bail, but sends the poor who cannot afford bail to jail. Why?
Could it have something to do with the race of the people affected? Are they Black and Brown? What other regulations have Republicans passed to disenfranchise vulnerable communities? How many votes do they represent? Which states disenfranchise the most?
We created this StoryMap with data about turnout rates and prison populations from the U.S. Elections Project and prison voting regulations from the Prison Policy Initiative. Click on the map for details and decide for yourself. Is there a connection between the Republican led states which have the most people incarcerated, racist prison voting regulations and voter turnout?
Racist voter suppression through prison policies
How prison policies can deny voting rights
Most people in jail are legally eligible to vote, but in practice, they can’t. This “de facto disenfranchisement” stems from widespread misinformation about eligibility, barriers to voter registration, and challenges to casting a ballot. Approximately 746,000 individuals in jail have the right to vote have not been convicted of the charges on which they are being held (i.e. they are being detained “pretrial”), and pretrial detention does not disqualify someone from voting. - PPI
Many of the 11 million or so Americans booked into county jails are too poor to post bail or just serving misdemeanor sentences. Those without felony convictions are still eligible to vote — but can't exercise that right. - Axios
Registered voters who were booked into county jails during 2020 voting days were 46% less likely to vote that year, compared to people who were in jail shortly after Election Day, according to a study from the Public Safety Lab at New York University.
Extreme Republican voter suppression
In 16 states, voting by absentee ballot is only permitted when a voter claims one of a short list of recognized justifications, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most of these states, detention in jail is not a recognized justification. That means for these states, people in jail are de facto barred from casting a ballot, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a criminal justice think tank.
A Tennessee law requires voters to cast ballots in person the first time they vote, even if they are eligible to vote by mail. This makes it impossible for a first-time voter in jail to vote.
Incarcerated voters face many barriers. The difficulties of voting from jail are compounded by the fact that jail voting falls within the purview of two distinct authorities: local sheriffs (who oversee and operate jails) and election officials (who bear responsibility for implementing voting procedures). A lack of cooperation (or downright obstruction) on the part of either of those actors can—and often does—make voting impossible for many jailed people who retain the right to cast a ballot. - PPI
Prison Policy Initiative is a non-profit, non-partisan groups that produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society. It's research and advocacy is at the center of the national conversation about criminal justice reform and over-criminalization.
The U.S. Elections Project is an information source for the United States electoral system. The mission of the project is to provide timely and accurate election statistics, electoral laws, research reports, and other useful information regarding the United States electoral system. By providing this information, the project seeks to inform the people of the United States on how their electoral system works, how it may be improved, and how they can participate in it.
TakeAway: Call out Republicans who use racist prison policies to cling to power.
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