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Impact and Advice on Voting Rights Following Felony Convictions

WHEREAS, the right and power to vote, as guaranteed in the 15th and the 19th Amendments of our U.S. Constitution, in elections, is a fundamental principal of our democracy; and

WHEREAS, following a citizen's/defendant's conviction of a felony offense, voting rights may be impacted for a short period of time or for life; and

WHEREAS, such disenfranchisement of voting rights has a disproportionate impact on African Americans, particularly and significantly African American men and other men of color, and their ability to participate in our democracy; and

WHEREAS, many of our states have different laws as to if and when a citizen who has suffered a felony conviction may be disenfranchised, and there is much confusion throughout the United States as to each state's laws as to when a citizen is subject to losing his or her right to vote following a felony conviction, which further has an impact on whether he or she can vote and participate in the democratic process; and

WHEREAS, criminal courts are in the best position to advise citizens of the collateral consequences of felony convictions during the time the citizen enters a plea of guilty to a felony conviction or is found guilty of a felony offense and will be so sentenced for a felony offense.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will continue to urge all of its Units to work to identify and assist those who have suffered felony convictions on how to restore their voting rights in their respective states and communities; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stands in support of urging each State/State-Area Conference to urge its judges and attorneys in criminal courts to advise criminal defendants regarding the impact of a felony conviction on his/her right to vote and how to have his/her voting rights reinstated, following such felony conviction, incarceration and/or parole.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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