Public Scholarship

Shackled Voting: The Resurgence Of Jim Crow – Analysis - Eurasia Review

Despite major breakthroughs in the American democratic experience, race and gender-based inequalities remain. Excluding Blacks from the vote has been one of the most consistent realities of the post emancipation journey. In fact, during Reconstruction, Black persons were more likely to be lynched in the periods leading up to an election. At this very moment, Blacks are four times as likely to lose their voting rights as any other racial/ethnic group, to the tune of 1.8 million citizens. For context, over 400 voter suppression bills have been proposed in 48 states by policymakers laser focused on reintroducing Jim Crow and his racially motivated barriers to civil inclusion.

The right to vote is central to democracy. Despite the presence of five amendments protecting this time- honored practice, there are 5.2 million individuals disenfranchised from voting due to their felony status, seventy-five percent of whom are currently on probation, parole, or have served their debt to society. In fact, only Maine and Vermont allow incarcerated individuals to vote. Note that research has found a significant relationship between perceived racial threat and the presence of felony disenfranchisement laws.

Hervis Rogers, a 62-year-old parole, was arrested in early July 2021 and released on a $100,000 bond. A cursory review of the U.S. Department of Justice’s offense-specific bail amounts would highlight the median bail amount for robbery is $20,000, rape is $25,000, and murder is $100,000.

This man’s crime? Voting while on parole. In effect, voting while on parole landed Mr. Rogers with a bail amount typically reserved for accused murderers.

In March 2020, Rogers made national news when he waited in line for six hours to vote in the presidential primary race. More than a year later, Texas Attorney General Ken Patton ordered Rogers’ arrest on the grounds of illegal voting while on parole for a burglary conviction 25 years prior. He could now face up to 40 years in prison if convicted. Rogers’ was just shy of the end of his parole on June 13, 2020, and argues that he was not aware he could not vote.

Rogers’ story is similar to over five million others, and it underscores a crisis that’s been covered up for generations: the silencing of citizens under criminal justice supervision, many of whom are Black or Brown.

Click HERE to read the full article on Eurasia Review.