Inclusive Democracy Act Would End Felony Disenfranchisement 

Today, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023, a bill to end felony disenfranchisement. This groundbreaking legislation seeks to eliminate the discriminatory practice of felony disenfranchisement for federal elections, ensuring that all Americans, regardless of a criminal conviction, have the fundamental right to vote. 

“The Inclusive Democracy Act will help ensure that every American has a voice and a stake in shaping our nation’s future,” said Geoff Foster, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “After decades of felony disenfranchisement through mass incarceration, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Welch’s bill will give every American a say in the decisions that are made on their behalf in Washington – decisions that will impact funding for our schools, our hospitals, and even the safety of our workplaces and our drinking water.”

Polling by The Sentencing Project, Stand Up America, Common Cause, and State Innovation Exchange revealed that the majority of Americans believe the right to vote should be an inalienable right for all Americans, including to those who are currently serving sentences, both within and outside of prison walls. 

“Americans have seen how our nation’s prison system has been used to silence the voices of millions of Americans at the ballot box and the majority of us support the values of the Inclusive Democracy Act to bring an end to felony disenfranchisement in federal elections,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Common Cause Justice & Democracy Manager. “More than four and a half million Americans are currently disenfranchised due to criminal convictions. It is time to give these Americans a voice in our democracy.”

Common Cause recently co-founded The National Voting in Prison Coalition, a new national coalition formed to advance guaranteed voting rights for justice-involved Americans, including those currently and formerly incarcerated or otherwise impacted by the criminal legal system. Both Common Cause and the greater coalition strongly support the Inclusive Democracy Act and are urging lawmakers in the House and the Senate to pass the legislation into law.