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Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Mississippi

Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Mississippi

Published: March 27, 2014
Current felony disenfranchisement laws

The Mississippi Constitution permanently disenfranchises people convicted of any one of ten specified crimes: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy. The state attorney general has opined that eleven other crimes are effectively encompassed within the constitution’s list.

Legislative advocacy

2006. In 2006, rather than seeking to amend the state constitution, and risking further expansion of the list of disqualifying crimes, we drafted two bills to advance voting rights through legislation alone. The first would require courts to notify individuals at sentencing of how and whether the conviction will affect their voting rights. The other would update an existing statute (which now refers only to veterans of World Wars I or II) to restore the right to vote to all veterans with criminal convictions who have been honorably discharged from the military. The bills were not successful in either house.

Compliance efforts

People convicted of offenses other than those listed above should be entitled to vote even while they are incarcerated, but in practice most are not. We assisted state advocates in conducting and analyzing a survey of county election officials to determine whether they are illegally disenfranchising people convicted of non-disqualifying crimes.