Koren Carbuccia of Rhode Island went to prison twice, first for dealing cocaine and later for possessing drugs, says Salon.com. She was released last year and now, at 27, studies substance abuse counseling at a community college. She can’t vote until 2017, when she completes both parole and probation. In a state of just 1 million, she’s one of more than 15,000 disenfranchised voters because of prior felonies.
Across the U.S., nearly 4 million with felony convictions who are out of prison will be barred from going to the polls on Nov. 7. Their lost votes could make a decisive difference in close Senate and House races this fall, especially in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia, where, unlike most states, felons, even after serving their time, never regain the right to vote. The war on drugs and a trend toward tougher sentencing laws have seen the nation’s prison population swell over the past few decades. In Rhode Island, 40 percent of inmates are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, like Carbuccia’s.