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Voting Rights

  Shama Mir and Morton Sklar, editors, US NGO Report on CERD: AN INFORMAL WORKING GROUP OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL  CIVIL RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE GROUPS, THE WORLD ORGANIZATION AGAINST TORTURE USA (September 2000)

 

 

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from Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in the United States, The Status of Compliance by the U.S. Government with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Compiled By THE WORLD ORGANIZATION AGAINST TORTURE USA

 

prepared by

Charlie Sullivan, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, and

Timothy Cooper, Human Rights America

Felony disenfranchisement laws, as well as the denial of voting rights to residents of the District of Columbia, result in the denial of voting rights to over 4 million people in the United States.Over half of those excluded from voting on these grounds are people of color. Furthermore, this number does not include the individuals denied the right to vote because they are homeless, the majority of whom are people of color.[20]The denial of the right to participate in democratic governance and to be represented through the electoral process disproportionately impacts people of color in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.This raises a strong presumption that racial and ethnic discrimination are strong motivating factors in the denial of this basic right. 

“An estimated 3.9 million Americans, or one in fifty adults, have lost the right to vote as a result of a felony conviction.Felon disenfranchisement is significant not only because of the number of citizens it affects, but also because of its disproportionate impact on the voting power of racial minorities.” [21]Thirteen percent, or 1.4 million, of the nation's male African American population of voting age have already been disenfranchised as a result of this policy.[22]

An additional 423,710 people (317,782 of whom are people of color) are denied the right to vote because they are residents of the District of Columbia.[23]For over 200 years, the United States government has continuously denied citizens of Washington, D.C. the right to equal participation in their own national legislature through duly elected representatives.The District of Columbia is the only political jurisdiction in the continental United States that is denied Congressional representation, and D.C. residents are the only U.S. taxpaying citizens who do not enjoy equal suffrage in their national legislature.Moreover, D.C. residents are also denied the right to full self-government -- a fundamental right possessed by all other American citizens.Significantly, the District's population is 67% African American and 8% Latino.

These denials of voting rights represent violations of the nondiscrimination, equal protection and political participation provisions of CERD under Articles 2 and 5.

 
 
 
 
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Thanks to Derrick Bell and his pioneer work: 
Race, Racism and American Law
(1993).