In a landmark move to expand voting rights and bolster democratic participation, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Senator Peter Welch (VT) today introduced the Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023. 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 stands as a beacon of hope for the more than 4.6 million Americans currently disenfranchised due to criminal convictions. These individuals, despite being most impacted by the criminal legal system, remain voiceless in our nation’s electoral process. Polling by The Sentencing Project, Stand Up America, Common Cause, and State Innovation Exchange revealed that most Americans believe the right to vote should be an inalienable right for all Americans, extending to those who are currently serving sentences, both within and outside of prison walls.
The Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023 is a long-overdue step towards fulfilling the promise of our democracy, where every American has a voice and a stake in shaping our nation’s future. The National Voting in Prison Coalition urges members of the House and Senate to join us in supporting this essential legislation and ensuring that all Americans can participate fully in our democratic processes.
The Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023 comprises a series of transformative measures designed to eradicate disenfranchisement and empower marginalized communities:
- Automatic restoration of voting rights to vote in federal elections to all Americans who have criminal convictions,
- Elimination of state-level barriers that prevent individuals with criminal convictions, whether they are incarcerated or have been released, from exercising their right to vote in federal elections.
- Prohibition of the prosecution of Americans in carceral settings who complete an election ballot that includes an election they are not eligible to vote in.
The Inclusive Democracy Act of 2023 represents a bold step towards a more just and equitable society, where the right to vote is not a privilege reserved for a select few but a fundamental right guaranteed to all Americans. By dismantling the barriers that have excluded millions of Americans from participating in our democracy, we can move closer to realizing the true essence of American democracy – a system of government that truly represents the will of all its people.
The National Voting in Prison Coalition is 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. Coalition members supporting this statement include:
Campaign Legal Center,
Center for Common Ground,
Center for Popular Democracy,
Coalition on Human Needs,
Institute of Forgiveness,
International Community Justice Association (ICJA),
Just Future Project,
JustUS Coordinating Council,
Legal Action Center,
Montana Women Vote,
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers,
National Council of Churches,
National Employment Law Project,
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice,
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice,
Nolef Turns Inc.
Prison Policy Initiative,
Rural Arizona Action,
Stand Up America,
The Gubbio Project,
The Sentencing Project,
WISDOM of Wisconsin