Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy

Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy

Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy

Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy

Excerpt

The right to vote matters. No clearer expression of the importance of the franchise can be found than in the words and writings of those to whom it has been denied. On trial for illegally attempting to vote in 1872, women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony declared to the court: "Your denial of my citizen's right to vote is the denial of my right of consent as one of the governed, the denial of my right of representation as one of the taxed … therefore, the denial of my sacred right to life, liberty, property." In his famous essay "What the Black Man Wants," penned right at the end of the Civil War, Frederick Douglass described the importance of the right to vote for African Americans in the following terms.

We want "the vote" because it is our right, first of all. No class
of men can, without insulting their own nature, be content with
any deprivation of their rights. We want it again, as a means for
educating our race. Men are so constituted that they derive their
conviction of their own possibilities largely from the estimate

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