February 12

Eric Holder calls for voting rights for ex-felons

The attorney general says 5.8 million Americans are denied the chance to vote by their states.

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.

“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder said of 11 states that continue to restrict voting rights for former inmates.

“Across this country today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans – 5.8 million of our fellow citizens – are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions,” Holder told a symposium on criminal justice at Georgetown University.

Holder said 2.2 million black citizens, or nearly one in 13 African-American adults, are banned from voting because of these laws. He said the ratio climbs to 1 in 5 in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

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