As many as one of every seven black men in Atlanta who have been convicted of a felony, and one of every four in Providence, R.I., cannot vote in this year’s election, according to a pair of studies released yesterday. The studies, the first to look at felon disenfranchisement laws’ effect on voting in individual cities, add to growing evidence that the laws have a disproportionate effect on African-Americans because the percentage of black men with felony convictions is much larger than their share of the population, reports the New York Times.
The study in Atlanta concluded that two-thirds of the gap in voter registration between black males and other ethnic and gender groups was attributable to Georgia’s felon voting law. Interest in the effect of such laws has increased since the presidential election of 2000, when George W. Bush won Florida by only 537 votes; an estimated 600,000 people in the state, most black, were barred from voting because of felony convictions. Florida is one of nine states that permanently forbid a felon to vote, even after the prison term or time on probation or parole has been fulfilled. In Georgia and Rhode Island, a felon can recover the right to vote after serving his time.