The Short Version: Felon Voting Rights, Right or Wrong?

The Short Version: Felon Voting Rights, Right or Wrong?

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Last week the subject was the fine line between  political favors and political corruption. The case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell remains the Rolex in the room. This week, Cleo Abram blogs about felon voting rights. Think the subject does not impact your life? Really? In this wacky election year, a change in state laws could mean 4.3 million more Americans would be able to vote. But should they have that sacred right?

 If you missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, the stories appear.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abram of the “The Short Version,” offering densely packed spins on issues of

What’s happening?

State restrictions on voting rights for people with felonies (The Sentencing Project)

Right now, nearly 6 million Americans are barred from voting because they have criminal records.

Most states prevent people with felony convictions from voting even after they are released. States differ on when, or if, felons’ voting rights are restored: some require individual applications, some after parole and probation, and some never restore them at all.

These laws, often collectively called “felon disenfranchisement,” are deeply linked to race and socioeconomics. Because black Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of their white peers, one out of three adult black men cannot vote.

How does it affect you?

First, it’s not as hard as you’d think to commit (and be convicted of) a felony. Civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate famously estimated that the average American commits about three federal felonies per day. Regardless, the number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 to more than 4,450 from 1980 to 2008. During the same period, the incarcerated population increased 500%.

Second, giving felons the right to vote could have a major impact on election results. Even if states only re-enfranchised felons who are now out of prison, around 4.3 million more Americans would be able to vote—more than three times the margin of victory in the most recent elections for members of Congress.

Debate it!

Should felons be allowed to vote after their release?


Why “The Short Version” on TIO:

Eight+ years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this new weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance. (Though we won’t go political, or rather we won’t show bias in the upcoming election.)

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist at Precision Strategies, a political consulting firm.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:

Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist at Precision Strategies, a political consulting firm born of the Obama 2012 presidential campaign.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski!

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