Blog of Rights

Limiting Voters' Choices in South Carolina

By Sam Ritchie, ACLU at 3:26pm
Imagine that you're looking for someone to hire at the company where you work. You go through resumes, research their references, and have them to the office for interviews. At the end of the process, you are confident that you've identified the perfect candidate: Sally Ann. She has just the right skills and experience, shares your company's priorities and values and would represent your organization perfectly. You offer Sally Ann the job, but are then told you can't hire her, because she was turned down for a job she applied for with one of your competitors. Because they decided not to hire her, you can't either.

A New Literacy Test in Virginia?

By Kent Willis, ACLU of Virginia at 12:28pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

It has recently come to light that after taking office, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell quietly instituted a new process to make it even harder for individuals with nonviolent felony convictions to have their voting…

Fighting for Voting Rights for All Americans

By Rachel Bloom, ACLU at 12:39pm

Today marks the second day of a two-day United Nations forum on "minorities and effective political participation." Chaired by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the forum has attracted legislators, academics and members of the nongovernmental…

Indiana's Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Citizens at the Polls

By Meredith Bell-Platts, Voting Rights Project at 1:02pm

Voting rights cases extol the right to vote as fundamental and preservative of all rights. Indeed, the right to vote without regard to race, gender, age, or class is protected by numerous constitutional amendments and federal laws. Therefore, Indiana's…

The Democracy Restoration Act — Restoring a Civil Right Denied

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:54pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

As the Supreme Court has indicated, "[n]o right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined." Unfortunately, in America today, millions of citizens work, pay taxes, live in our communities and bring up families, yet they are without a voice. According to a 2008 ACLU/Brennan Center report, an estimated 5.3 million citizens cannot vote as a result of a felony conviction, and nearly 4 million of those citizens have been released from prison and are living and working in the community.

Worse still, felony disfranchisement laws are rooted in the Jim Crow era and were intended to bar minorities from voting. The impact of these laws continues today. Nationwide, 13 percent of African American men have lost the right to vote — a rate seven times the national average. Latino citizens are also disproportionately disfranchised because they are over-represented in the criminal justice system. In turn, this has impacted the families of those who are disfranchised and the communities in which they reside by reducing their collective political voice.

Confusion Surrounding State Laws

States have vastly different approaches to allowing those with criminal convictions to vote, which often compound the problems further. For example, some states disfranchise some, but not all, citizens with criminal convictions, while others allow voting after a sentence is completed or after release from prison. Two states, Virginia and Kentucky, permanently disfranchise citizens with felony convictions unless the state approves individual rights restoration; two states, Maine and Vermont, allow all persons with felony convictions to vote, even while incarcerated; all other states fall somewhere in between.

What Not to Wear...on Election Day

By Frank Knaack, ACLU of Texas at 2:29pm

The ACLU is strongly committed to protecting everyone's right to make their political opinions known, regardless of one’s viewpoint. This includes pro-life demonstrators protesting former President Clinton and opponents of the Iraq War calling…

Voter Fraud - The Dog that Didn't Bark

By Michael Collins, Election Fraud News at 11:34am

We're having our quadrennial encounter with the menace of voter fraud. We are to believe that gangs of undocumented aliens and the unemployed will vote illegally or, if registered, on multiple occasions. They'll do this to capitalize on the fraudulent…

Putting the Brakes on Voter Suppression in North Carolina

Putting the Brakes on Voter Suppression in North Carolina

By Molly Rugg, Paralegal, ACLU at 11:35am

Voters get to decide who represents them, but elected officials don't get to decide which eligible voters can and can't vote. Right?

Elected officials in North Carolina think otherwise.

In August, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law that…

Voter Registration is Good for Your Health

Voter Registration is Good for Your Health

By Faith Barksdale, Legal Assistant, ACLU at 12:00am

Are voter registration opportunities good medicine? For the one-third of uninsured Americans who are also not registered to vote it would appear so. When people sign up for health care through the Affordable Care Act, they should also have the opportunity…

The author with Representative John Lewis

The Time for Waiting is Gone

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:56pm

Recently, I had a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).  I was bringing some youth leaders to his office to discuss racial justice and education.  When we arrived, he starting telling us his story.  We were in awe.  It was a history…