• Activists pushing to get voting rights restored to hundreds of thousands across Tennessee

    By: Kody Leibowitz


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Voting restoration was at the top of minds of a dozen activists in Memphis on Wednesday. 

    “Everyone should be able to access the right to vote and the country works best when people are able to participate in that process,” said Ashley Caldwell of Restore Your Vote Tennessee. 

    Restore Your Vote Tennessee said it’s helping to get voting rights restored across the state and in Memphis. 

    It’s a problem, activists said during a press conference, that persists across the Volunteer State.

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    According to data compiled by The Sentencing Project, Tennessee has some of the strictest voting rights restoration laws in the country with its high rates of disenfranchisement. 

    About 420,000 people in Tennessee have felony disenfranchisement, according to The Sentencing Project. 

    Most are coming post-sentencing and the total is about eight percent of the state population, which is the fourth highest percentage in the country. 

    For African American Tennesseans, the percentage is even higher: 21 percent disenfranchised. 

    “No one should be barred from [voting], especially not based on the color of their skin, their income,” said Caldwell. 

    According to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office, the state restored voting rights for 241 people between Jan. 1 and July 17 this year. Add in last year’s total of 482 and the state has restored rights to 723 people over the past 18 months. 

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