US Attorney General Asks Tennessee And Other States To Restore Voting Rights To Ex-Felons

Feb 12, 2014

US Attorney General Eric Holder / February 7, 2014 / Reception for baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron in Washington, DC / Photo by Nick Wass/AP

US Attorney General Eric Holder has asked Tennessee and 10 other states (Arizona, Florida, Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Wyoming, and Virginia) to restore voting rights to those with former felony convictions.

Holder says that failings in the criminal justice system often lead to permanent disenfranchisement for former felons, especially racial minorities. He estimates that 5.8 million Americans with current or previous felony convictions can't vote, including 2.2 million African-American adults. 

Holder also said that 10% of Floridians and 8% of Mississippians are disenfranchised. He did praise Virginia for a new policy that automatically restores the voting rights of former prisoners convicted of nonviolent crimes. 

(A transcript of AG Holder's remarks is here)