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A Few Inmates Vote: 88 of D.C.'s 1,700 Jail Prisoners Take the Opportunity

November 6, 2012 08:02:35 am

Washington, D.C.'s 1,700 jail inmates were given an opportunity to vote early in today's elections but only 88 took the opportunity, reports the Associated Press. D.C. is one of the few jurisdictions that help inmates vote. Another one is San Francisco, where more than 300 ballots were delivered to prisoners this year. Maine and Vermont, the only two states where prisoners never lose the ability to vote, also help inmates cast absentee ballots.

Most states and the District of Columbia bar prisoners serving time on a felony conviction from voting. Inmates awaiting trial or serving a sentence for a misdemeanor, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide, are allowed to vote as long as they aren't barred by a past felony conviction. Most states don't actively help these people vote, said Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project, which advocates for sentencing reform and alternatives to prison.

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