Opinion Columns & Blogs

Why 18,500 more voting-age Kansans can’t vote

Would-be registered voters hung up on the proof-of-citizenship requirement won’t be the only onlookers to Tuesday’s election in Kansas. Also on the sidelines will be 18,500 Kansans with felony convictions, including 5,800 African-Americans, according to a report by the Sentencing Project on felony disenfranchisement in U.S. Senate battleground states. Of the 5.85 million Americans who’ve lost their voting rights for this reason nationwide, 2.6 million have completed their sentences. The think tank’s study counted Kansas among the 19 states that ban voting by convicted felons who are on parole or probation, as well as those in prison or jail. Attorney General Eric Holder advocates restoring felons’ voting rights. “By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes,” he said in February. – Rhonda Holman