Changing Policy Designs for 'Deviants': Political Lessons from the Rhode Island 'Right to Vote' Campaign

29 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

We study the exclusion of a voluntary minority - felons - from the electoral process in the United States and its efforts to use majoritarian institutions to change the punitive policy designs that support exclusion. Specifically, we analyze a successful referendum campaign in Rhode Island to amend the state constitution to restore voting rights to felons on parole and probation, the first in the nation. We examine the origins of the campaign to repeal the state's disenfranchisement law and its effective community organizing among felons and advocacy in the legislature and among the electorate. We also identify the challenges and prospects of returning political rights to felons through majoritarian institutions, namely legislatures and referendums, in other states.

Suggested Citation

Owens, Michael Leo and Orr, Marion, Changing Policy Designs for 'Deviants': Political Lessons from the Rhode Island 'Right to Vote' Campaign (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1901222

Michael Leo Owens (Contact Author)

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Marion Orr

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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