Attorney General Eric Holder has made headlines by recommending that states repeal their ban on felony voting. During a conference at Georgetown University Holder stated, “It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values. These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”
The systemic racism in the jail system is not a new story, and Holder is right to bring up the issue if he is really adamant about enacting change. Out of the approximate 6 million felons who are unable to vote, over a third are African American, according to The Sentencing Project.
Holder also suggests that reinstating felons’ rights to vote could help to ease criminal recidivism and crime rates, but that is a tougher pill to swallow, especially since only about 60 percent of all eligible voters participate in the Presidential elections and a dismal 40 percent for the mid-term elections.
Statistically speaking, reinstating felons’ voting rights would add about 3.5 million votes to the national pool of 125 million regular voters, assuming the new voters would have the same turnout as the national rate. The total increase is about 3 percent, which are predicted to be mostly Democratic votes, a humble increase.
On a state-to-state level, the numbers show a much more drastic change. As an example, in Florida 10 percent of the voting-age population is ineligible to vote due to criminal voting laws, and such drastic changes in the state voting populations could change some swing states into blue states, which in turn would change the national political landscape.
It is also important to note that Holder’s suggestions are coming ahead of the mid-term elections, elections, which generally favor the party opposing the President. Democrats have been doing everything they can to bolster their chances at winning this year even avoiding the President himself.
Meanwhile, Republicans are enjoying increased poll numbers and need to gain only 6 Senate seats to gain control of both the House and the Senate. If Republicans do regain control of the Legislative branch, Obama will probably leave office with a full head of silver hair.
Voters’ rights will continue to be a hot topic as the elections get closer. While Attorney General Holder’s heart might be in the right place on the issue, he certainly picked an interesting time to bring up the issue.