A proposed bill by Democratic Caucus Chairman, Hakeem Jeffries, would ensure that formerly incarcerated people are briefed on their voting rights.

The Ex-Offender Voter Registration Act would provide awareness on voting rights laws in multiple states and the chance for the formerly incarcerated to register to vote after they have been released from custody. 

Furthermore, this act would also require Bureau of Prisoners caseworkers to provide the necessary information on all states’ voting rights, along with voter registration or application forms that will need to be completed for them to vote.

“The Ex-Offender Voter Registration Act of 2019 will strike a massive blow against voter disenfranchisement across America,” Jeffries said. “I believe in the power of redemption and that anyone who has served their time and paid their debt to society should have the ability to participate in the bedrock of our democracy.”

This proposed bill would help more than 6.1 million Americans that are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction. In 1976, 1.17 million individuals were disenfranchised due to a felony conviction which has drastically grown to more than 6.1 million individuals today.

According to a report by The Sentencing Project, one in 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised which is four times greater than that of the general population. An even grimmer picture is that more than one in five African-Americans are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction in four states, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Laws regarding voting after sentence completion vary widely across states, and in more than 10 states formerly incarcerated individuals lose their right to vote permanently. Florida, a key swing state,  used to be a part of this statistic as well until the enactment of Amendment Four, granting certain ex-felons the right to vote. 

This proposed bill would not change state laws surrounding ex-felons voting rights but would inform individuals about their voting rights in all states. 

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