Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone


Graduate School


Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Cory Curl


Felony disenfranchisement impacts nearly 4.6 million individuals in the United States with low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately affected. This policy is a practice that restricts the voting rights of individuals who have been convicted of a felony. This brief provides an overview of the challenges faced by those affected by felony disenfranchisement, as well as the implications for democracy in the United States. Highlighting a 50-state scan of state voter restrictions, I showcase the different laws and policies that restrict the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions across the United States. The history of felony disenfranchisement in the United States is examined, including its roots in the disenfranchisement of African Americans during the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fifteenth Amendment, and the Literacy Tests era. The impact of felony disenfranchisement on individuals is also discussed, including the barriers it creates for re-entry and full participation in society. The analysis of the problem at the national level and a specific focus on the state of Kentucky reveals the stringent restrictions on voting for individuals with a felony conviction- including the various felonies that qualify to block an individual's vote. Lastly, alternatives to the current system and considerations for reform are discussed. The significance of this issue is to promote greater awareness of the challenges faced by those affected by felony disenfranchisement and to encourage reform to promote greater inclusivity. I conclude with recommendations for policymakers to consider, including the restoration of voting rights for all individuals who have completed their sentence and the elimination of barriers to re-entry and full participation in society.