WATCH: Restoring voting rights to former felons is getting Black people talking about the midterm elections

As we get closer to the 2018 midterm elections, we’ve noticed the amount of energy advocates in our community and public figures are putting in to ensure Black folks are eligible, registered and ready to vote come November 6, but the efforts don’t stop there.

The fight continues to educate anyone who was formerly incarcerated and lives in a state that will not restore their voting rights. If the voter rights were restored to this particular group (and we know Black and brown people make up less of the population, but are incarcerated at much higher rates than whites), it could have tremendous impact in voting patterns across the country.

READ MORE: Manifesto: TheGrio presents a list of demands to hold candidates accountable before and after the midterm elections

According to SentencingProject.org: “6.1 million Americans are not allowed to vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes. One in 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than that of non-African Americans.”

African American voter disenfranchisement also vary significantly by state. In four states – Florida (21 percent), Kentucky (26 percent), Tennessee (21 percent), and Virginia (22 percent) – more than one in five African Americans is disenfranchised.

Even though Vermont and Maine are currently the only two states that actually allow former prisoners to vote once they’ve been released, things are starting to change in other places across the country. For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, announced earlier this year his plans to restore the voting rights to those on parole through Executive Order 181.

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We hit the streets of Harlem to see what Black people are saying about this hotbed issue and other tactics of suppressing the Black vote.


Learn more about theGrio’s stance on the midterm elections’ important issues impacting Black America by reading our manifesto and following #BlackVoterPower.