At least a dozen states have changed their laws since 2003 to allow more felons who are no longer in prison to cast ballots, reversing a long-standing trend, says the Los Angeles Times. Although studies show that felons lean Democratic, states led by Republican governors have loosened their voting rules, including Alabama, Nebraska, Nevada, and Florida — where officials have learned from the 2000 presidential race just how close an election can be. States restored voting rights to about 760,000 felons in the last decade, according to tallies by voting rights groups, but data on how many have registered to cast ballots are sketchy. Whether these voters could tip an election in a presidential swing state is a matter of speculation.
The new laws have produced aggressive registration drives this election season in the most unconventional of places — soup kitchens, halfway houses, even Alabama state prisons. “This is the first time in history that some of these places have ever seen this kind of civic activity,” said the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, who served time in prison. He heads an Alabama nonprofit faith-based organization and has led efforts to register the state’s current and former convicts.