Holder Endorses Voting Rights for Returning Citizens
James Wright | 2/16/2014, 2:49 p.m.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that laws prohibiting returning citizens from voting even after they serve their sentences are wrong.
"By perpetuating the stigma and isolation imposed on formerly incarcerated individuals, these laws increase the likelihood they will commit future crimes," Holder said Tuesday at the Georgetown University Law Center in Northwest during a symposium sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The NAACP and other civil rights organizations are working to persuade 11 states, specifically Florida, Virginia and Delaware, to end the practice. There are an estimated 1.5 million disenfranchised returning citizens in Florida, a key battleground state in presidential elections.
Jotaka Eaddy, the NAACP senior director for voting rights, praised Holder for his stance.
"This statement does much to make combatting felony disenfranchisement a national fight and not just a state one," Eaddy said. "The NAACP and several other groups have been fighting on the ground to rid our country of a practice that has its roots in black codes designed to eliminate black participation at the ballot box."