More than six million Americans can’t vote because of laws that take voting rights away from ex-felons. While most states automatically restore the right to vote once a sentence is completed, Mississippi is one of 12 states that continues to deny voting rights to individuals even after they’ve served their time.
Timber larceny, felony shoplifting and bigamy are some of the 22 disenfranchising crimes in the state, and once a person has lost the right to vote in Mississippi there are only two ways to get it back — by pardon from the governor, which hasn’t happened under current Republican Governor Phil Bryant, or by an individual suffrage bill, filed by a state legislator on behalf of the ex-felon.
It’s an arduous, little-known process that has been questioned by legislators in Mississippi, which remains the only state in the country that involves the legislature in restoring individual voting rights to citizens — just six of whom got their right to vote restored this year.
This segment originally aired May 2, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.