Louisiana: “Unchaining The Vote”

Advancement Project presently serves as lead counsel in VOTE v. Louisiana, a rights restoration case pending in the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit.  The case seeks to restore the right to vote for approximately 70,000 people who are not incarcerated, but live in the community under parole supervision or on felony probation.

“At stake in this case is more than just the legal interpretation of the Louisiana constitution; the case also asks the moral question: which Louisianans deserve to have a voice?”  — Norris Henderson, Executive Director, Voice Of The Experienced (VOTE)

Louisiana denies the right to vote to people behind bars. It also bars from voting 40,000 people who are placed on probation following a felony conviction, along with 30,000 who have returned to their communities on parole.  Each year, thousands of people are removed from this list while thousands more take their place, as Louisiana has more police and prisons per capita than anywhere in the nation.

The deprivation of the right to vote affects Louisianans of different backgrounds and races.  Still, this practice disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans.  While Black people make up about 32.5 percent of the population of Louisiana, they comprise 50 percent of those on probation and 61 percent of those under parole supervision.

Voice Of The Experienced (VOTE), a New Orleans-based, member-driven, grassroots non-profit organization run by formerly incarcerated persons and allies, and eight individual plaintiffs filed the case on July 1, 2016.  The trial court, in an oral ruling from the bench on March 13, 2017, granted summary judgment for the Secretary of State.  On June 13, 2017, VOTE appealed the trial court’s ruling to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit.  VOTE filed its Opening Brief on September 27, 2017 and its Reply Brief on October 27, 2017.

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