About 1.5 million felons who have completed their sentences are still denied the right to vote, says the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project. Unlike the District of Columbia and 34 states, where voting rights are automatically restored to convicted felons who have completed their sentences, 14 states severely restrict – or even prohibit – ex-prisoners from casting ballots, says the Los Angeles Times. Former prisoners in those states can apply to restore their voting rights, but few have the means to navigate the cumbersome and confusing processes to do so, says the Sentencing Project.
Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Virginia disenfranchise felons; eight states – Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming – prohibit voting based on specific criteria, such as the type or number of convictions. The felons’ inability to regain voting rights is “a combination of a lack of information, poor technology, and limited assistance,” said Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project.