RYV Provides Support For Local Organizations Conducting Voting Rights Restoration

Issues
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A group of people looking at a clipboard
Campaign Legal Center's Blair Bowie (left) works with organizers prior to a Restore Your Vote campaign in Iowa. Photo by Casey Atkins/Campaign Legal Center.

Since 2019, Campaign Legal Center’s (CLC) Restore Your Vote program has provided over $300,000 in support to grassroots and state-based organizations to conduct voting rights restoration services in their communities.

Nationwide, more than 23 million Americans have been convicted of felonies. The vast majority of those people can vote or restore their right to vote under the law, but many do not know that they are eligible.

Our democracy works best when all citizens can vote without barriers. However, the myth that people who have had criminal convictions can never vote persists. It prevents Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American people and poor communities, who are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system, from making their voices heard.   

In fact, many states’ felony disenfranchisement laws were intentionally designed to be complicated or discretionary to facilitate racial discrimination. This kind of de facto disenfranchisement may impact up to 18 million Americans.

This is a serious problem for a representative democracy. It is also an access to justice problem. Many people are not voting because they do not have access to information about their states’ laws and/or individualized services that could help them understand how the laws apply to them.

CLC is working on closing the gap in voting rights restoration services with our community partners around the country.

RestoreYourVote.org and RecupereSuVoto.org are free online tools that more than 225,000 people have used to get the information they need about voting after a felony conviction in their state. But constant community outreach and presence is necessary to get individualized rights restoration services to the people who need it.

That’s why we offer a tailored menu of funding, materials, trainings, tools, legal support and coaching to grassroots organizations who want to restore voting rights to people in their communities.

Alongside our partners, we’ve provided individualized rights restoration services to more than 14,000 people and trained more than 5,000 community leaders and activists to be fluent in the rights restoration process in their state.

In 2020, we created a digital outreach campaign to help our partners safely and efficiently provide voting rights restoration services during the pandemic. Using text messaging, we assisted more than 5,200 people with their voting rights in nine states.

We also work closely with our partners to track patterns of wrongful denials and hidden barriers that are revealed through these direct services.

Where we find that officials are misapplying the law, erroneously keeping people from exercising their right to vote, we help our partners push back through advocacy and litigation, when necessary.

For example, in Alabama, we’ve worked with our local partner, the League of Women Voters of Alabama, to correct improper application of the law by local officials in more than half a dozen counties.

In Tennessee, after more than two years of tracking and troubleshooting insurmountable barriers and errors in the rights restoration process, we filed a federal lawsuit with our partner Free Hearts.

Below is a list of the partners we have worked with. We welcome outreach from organizations looking for advice or support on bringing voting rights restoration services to their communities (contact [email protected]). For more information on our work, visit our Restore Your Vote action page.

Alabama

Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice*

Faith in Action Alabama*

League of Women Voters of Alabama*

Arizona

Arizona Advocacy Foundation*

Florida

Free Our Vote

Iowa

Iowa Justice Action Network*

Quad Cities Interfaith

Kentucky

Kentucky Coalition

Mississippi

Mississippi Votes

OneVoice*

Tennessee

Free Hearts*

Texas

Houston Justice*

Wisconsin

Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing*

*Subgrantees

Blair is a Skadden Foundation Fellow at CLC focusing on overbroad felony disenfranchisement laws.