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W&L Law’s Demleitner on Voting Rights for Felons

Nora DemleitnerNora Demleitner

Washington and Lee law professor Nora Demleitner commented extensively in a Public Radio International story on the right to vote for convicted felons.

The story aired on October 9 on the PRI show “The World.” The story focuses on voter disenfranchisement as a result of incarceration, examining specific cases in Florida and trends around the country and abroad.

Most states have laws that take away voting rights for prisoners, but they vary when it comes to when and if the right to vote is restored. Demleitner discussed the origins of prisoner disenfranchisement, noting that it became a big issues in the U.S. after the Civil War.

“Many more states started putting them in effect, especially the Southern states that have the most restrictive disenfranchisement provisions to disenfranchise African Americans who otherwise would have been permitted to vote,” she told PRI.

Demleitner also discussed crimes, such as voter fraud, that justifiably lead to a permanent loss of the right to vote. In addition, she discussed the European approach, where voting rights are taken away as an additional penalty to a crime.

“But what you see in Europe is much more of a surgical approach, whereas in the US it comes automatically.”

You can listen to full report online.

Demleitner teaches and has written widely in the areas of criminal, comparative, and immigration law. Her special expertise is in sentencing and collateral sentencing consequences.