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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Issue Brief Details the Systematic Disenfranchisement of People Awaiting Trial
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress issue brief details the ways in which pretrial detainees, many of whom are low-income and people of color, are systematically prevented from exercising their right to vote.

Approximately 536,000 individuals, more than 20 percent of the United States’ total incarcerated population, are currently incarcerated while awaiting trial. Although many people awaiting trial retain the right to participate in elections under the U.S. Constitution, the issue brief found that jail administrators do not always give them the necessary election information or access to absentee ballots or polling places, leading to de facto disenfranchisement.

“There is a long history of people who are incarcerated being prevented from voting in jails around the country,” said Danielle Root, voting rights manager at the Center for American Progress. “Because the jail population in the United States is disproportionally comprised of people of color, this practice amounts to one more way in which people of color are being systematically denied their constitutional right to vote.”

The issue brief recommends a number of solutions to ensure voting rights are preserved for detained people who are eligible to vote and highlighting jurisdictions that are making voting in jails a priority.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected] or 202-495-3682.