This article by Peter Dizikes is published by MIT News. Here is an excerpt:
The voting rights of people with felony convictions is a controversial issue across many U.S. states — not least because many people assume expanding those rights could significantly affect election outcomes. A study by MIT scholars of voting patterns among the imprisoned now suggests that is unlikely to be the case.
The study examines the two U.S. states — Maine and Vermont — where people can vote even while they are incarcerated, and found turnout is significantly lower than it is for the population at large. In Maine, about 6 percent of people serving felony sentences vote, and in Vermont, about 8 percent do.
“Everybody seems to think that there’s going to be this political impact and that it’s going to have an effect, but in the short term that doesn’t appear to be the case,” says MIT political scientist Ariel White, co-author of a new paper detailing the results of the study. “Absent a lot of other things happening, simply reinstating [or maintaining] the right to vote for this population of people is not likely to yield a whole bunch of new voters.”
Read the full story here. You can also see more on this subject at either the Democracy Chronicles felon voting archive or African-American Voting Rights. Also, see our main section on American Democracy and our Voter Access articles focusing more broadly on the ease of voting and the various barriers in the way.