The Politics of Felons

The Politics of Felons


On January 1, 2014, Paul Bedard wrote the following piece for The Washington Examiner:

A new study of how criminals vote found that most convicts register Democratic, a key reason in why liberal lawmakers and governors are eager for them to get back into the voting booth after their release.

“Democrats would benefit from additional ex-felon participation,”said the authoritative study in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

The authors, professors from the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, found that in some states, felons register Democratic by more than six-to-one. In New York, for example, 61.5 percent of convicts are Democrats, just 9 percent Republican. They also cited a study that found 73 percent of convicts who turn out for presidential elections would vote Democrat.

But despite recent moves in states to notify convicts that they can vote again, the study finds little evidence that they do, undercutting Democratic efforts to get them to the polls.

The study looked at three states which are reminding convicts that they can vote after leaving jail: New York, New Mexico and North Carolina.

They provided the following Democrat-to-Republican breakdown in felon party registration patterns:

– New York: 61.5 percent register Democratic, 9 percent register Republican

– New Mexico: 51.9 percent Democratic, 10.2 percent Republican

– North Carolina: 54.6 percent Democratic, 10.2 percent Republican

Overall, said the study, there are 5.8 million eligible voters in jail, about 2.5 percent of the voting age population. Most are young black males, it added.

* Source: “Jail Survey: 7 in 10 Felons Register As Democrats,” by Paul Bedard (January 1, 2014).

Additional Resources:

Jail Survey: 7 in 10 Felons Register As Democrats
By Paul Bedard
January 1, 2014

Democratic Contraction? Political Consequences of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United
By Christopher Uggen and Jeff Manza (American Sociological Review)
December 2002

Do Voting Rights Notification Laws Increase Ex-Felon Turnout?
By Marc Meredith and Michael Morse
January 2014

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