Why millions of African Americans won’t vote Hillary Clinton

By Seun Bisuga

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Photo: (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
Photo: (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Many are of the opinion that minorities in the United States especially African Americans and Hispanics will vote for Democrat presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, giving her an overwhelming assurance that she will beat her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump to the Oval Office.

But the truth is, while many African Americans and Hispanics would like to vote for Clinton, most of them are ineligible to do so, giving Trump some invisible boost where he should have had little or none.

Here is an insight into why they cannot vote Clinton.

There is a law in the United States known as “Felony disenfranchisement”.

Felony Disenfranchisement means the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes.

According to various reports and studies, African Americans are on the other side of the law.

In a study conducted by Sentencing Project, a national non-profit criminal justice-oriented organization, a record 6.1 million Americans are forbidden to vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or laws restricting voting rights for those convicted of felony-level crimes.

The number of disenfranchised individuals has increased dramatically along with the rise in criminal justice populations in recent decades, rising from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 6.1 million today.

But those most hit by this law are the Black Americans and Hispanics.

Sentencing Project found that one in every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than that of non-African Americans.

Felony Disenfranchisement breakdown by Sentencing Project

Felony Disenfranchisement
breakdown by Sentencing Project

To further clarify the picture, the study showed that over 7.4 per cent of the adult African American population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8 per cent of the non-African American population.

According to an ABC report, on Election Day, nearly 1.4 million voting-age black men — more than one in eight — will be ineligible to cast ballots because of state laws that strip felons of the right to vote.

Disenfranchised black males account for 35 per cent of all Americans now barred from voting because of felony convictions.

Two per cent of all Americans, or 3.9 million, have lost the right to vote, compared with 13 per cent of adult black men.

A state-by-state breakdown of data from The Sentencing Project, a private group that favors sentencing reform, shows that in 17 states the estimated percentage of disenfranchised black men is even higher than 13 percent.

With more White voters allowed to vote, Donald Trump might have an edge

With more White voters allowed to vote, Donald Trump might have an edge

Similarly, a report by The New Observer revealed that nonwhites, specifically, blacks and Hispanics, account for 64 per cent of the US prison population, even though they account for 37 per cent of the total population.

Also they both account for 75 per cent of all prisoners in federal penitentiaries.

The facts are pretty staggering. In a Washington Post report, there are around 1.6 million incarcerated prisoners in state or federal prisons.

This figure excludes prisoners in local jails, which were not captured in the reports and would skew the statistics even more.

Some 7.7 percent of black males aged 25 to 54 years are incarcerated at any one time. This compares to 1.6 percent of white males of the same age who are incarcerated at any one time.

How disenfranchised voters have grown over the years Diagram: Sentencing Projects

How disenfranchised voters have grown over the years
Diagram: Sentencing Projects

Over the past 40 years, the prison population has quintupled. Black men are imprisoned at six times the rate of white men.

In 2003, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that black men have a one in three chance of going to federal or state prison in their lifetimes.

According to Census data from 2014, there are more young black high school dropouts in prison than have jobs. One in nine black children has had a parent behind bars. One in thirteen black adults can’t vote because of their criminal records.

But it’s not all grim for Hillary Clinton, Voice of America reported recently that some formerly incarcerated New Yorkers recently traveled to Ohio to inform Ohio residents with felony convictions of their voting rights.

Ohio is a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election and former felons can vote as soon as they are released from prison. They don’t have to wait until they are off parole, a post-release period during which former inmates are monitored for good behavior.

“I can’t vote, so let me try to encourage at least five other people — family members and friends — by talking about political issues and how they affect us. And why you should vote,” said Kenneth Inniss, a 56-year African American who has not voted in a US election since 1984, when he first went to prison for a felony conviction.

Oluwaseun Bisuga is a journalist, writer, political analyst and social media manager.

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One Response

  1. David October 19, 2016 Reply

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