Does Felony Disenfranchisement Matter? Yes.

It is well known that Clinton’s lopsided victory in Mississippi in last night’s primary and in other southern sates was achieved by African Americans voting disproportionately for her.

Taking a bit of the glow off this result is a little noticed fact involving not who voted, but who did not, namely, the 182,814 barred due to Mississippi being one of the states which lead the nation in felony disenfranchisement.

It might be assumed that this number is relatively small and insignificant but it is not: the total number of votes cast in the Democratic Primary was 220,550 with Clinton receiving 182,882 of these.  The number of felons disenfranchised is only 68 votes short of equalling Clinton’s total count.

If only a relatively small fraction of felons had been able to vote and had gone for Sanders, the result would not have been nearly so definitive.

And it is not unreasonable to expect that many would have done so.  As Michelle Alexander, among others, has trenchantly observed, It was, after all, the Clinton era War on Drugs and Crime Bills which was responsible for their having spent time behind bars in many cases.

But, having lost their right to participate, their preferences will remain unexpressed.

Mississippi is not an outlier.  Indeed it is representative of the twelve states which Clinton has won so far.  Of these, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Nevada and Tennessee join #2 Mississippi in the top 10 states with the highest rates of felony disenfranchisement.  The other four have yet to have held their primaries-and Clinton, revealingly, is expected to do well in each, likely completing a clean sweep of all of the states most actively suppressing the rights of this set of largely poor and African American voters.

Here is a breakdown of the voting totals in those states.

#4 Virginia
Hillary Clinton  503,358
Bernie Sanders  275,507
Other 4,030
Disenfranchised felons  451,471

#5 Alabama
Hillary Clinton  309,928
Bernie Sanders 76,399
Other 11,837
Disenfranchised felons 262,354

#6 Tennessee
Hillary Clinton  245,304
Bernie Sanders 120,333
Other 5,445
Disenfranchised felons 341,815

#8 Nevada (caucus)
Hillary Clinton  6,316
Bernie Sanders 5,678
Other 8
Disenfranchised felons 86,321

#10 Georgia
Hillary Clinton  543,008
Bernie Sanders 214,332
Other 8
Disenfranchised felons 275,866

In two states, Tennessee and Nevada, the number of disenfranchised voters actually exceeds the total votes Clinton received.  Whether the outcome would have been effected by these numbers is hard to know. What should be mentioned is that this particular form of voter suppression has  been almost entirely ignored.  Most conspicuously, it has never been mentioned by Democratic Party operatives always ready to condemn Republican’s successful efforts to keep African American voters from the polls. In this case, their chosen candidate, Secretary Clinton, demonstrably benefits.  Is that the reason for their silence?

Finally, of the remaining states on the list, #1 Florida, #3 Kentucky, #7 Wyoming and #9 Arizona, the first merits special comment.  A full 1,541,602 citizens will be unable to participate in its March 15th primary.  Given that the last contested primary in 2008 attracted 1,749,920 voters, this may be another instance where the number of disenfranchised felons exceeds the total number of Democratic primary voters.  This time, with a million and half citizens locked out, it is perhaps not too much to hope that the establishment media will finally take notice of this outrage taking place under its nose.

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