Stop letting broken systems fail formerly incarcerated Americans

ADD YOUR NAME: I believe that states must end felony disenfranchisement and do a better job of informing people about their rights – so that NOBODY faces jail time over an unintentional voting error.

A Black woman in Tennessee was recently sentenced to six years in prison over an accidental voting error.

That’s right: Pamela Moses tried to register to vote in Tennessee – but didn’t know that doing so was illegal due to her past felony conviction. And she was further misled when an officer with the state’s Department of Corrections mistakenly confirmed that her probation had ended.

Now, Pamela could spend the next six years in prison.

This isn’t the first time a Black woman has been given an egregious punishment for a voting error. Crystal Mason made headlines when she received a five-year sentence for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election – without knowing that her past conviction disqualified her.

And at the same time, white individuals who have done the same thing (or worse) get off easy – like Bruce Bartman, a Pennsylvania voter who intentionally cast an extra vote for Donald Trump using his long-dead mother’s identity and was only given probation. This racist double standard has to end.

Pamela Moses and Crystal Mason wouldn’t be facing these injustices if it weren’t for felony disenfranchisement laws, which can permanently take the right to vote away from anyone convicted of a felony. These laws are antiquated, have a disgraceful past, have no criminal deterrent or rehabilitative value – and disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities.

It’s time to end the racist practice of felony disenfranchisement so that every American – no matter their color, ZIP code, or what’s in their wallet – has a chance to be heard in our democracy.

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