Criminal Disenfranchisement and the Challenge of American Federalism

35 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009 Last revised: 26 Mar 2012

See all articles by Alec Ewald

Alec Ewald

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 24, 2012

Abstract

This article reviews recent developments in American felony disenfranchisement law. Examining several variables’ impact on states’ likelihood of enacting reform, I find that only initial policy severity proves a strong predictor of restriction-relaxing change, as most of the dozen states enacting such reforms in the last decade began the period with extremely restrictive policies. Entrepreneurship by African American and Democratic lawmakers has been important, but many Republicans conclude that debating disenfranchisement can be advantageous to them, as well. The Help America Vote Act has centralized administration of this policy, while local officials retain important roles. The article concludes by examining two unresolved problems: whether ineligibility follows a person moving from one state to another, and whether Congress has the constitutional authority to enfranchise former offenders.

Suggested Citation

Ewald, Alec, Criminal Disenfranchisement and the Challenge of American Federalism (March 24, 2012). Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Vol. 39, Issue 3, pp. 527-556, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1456185 or http://dx.doi.org/pjp009

Alec Ewald (Contact Author)

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States
(802)656-0263 (Phone)

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