Press Releases

New Polling Reveals 56% of Voters Believe Voting Should be a Guaranteed Right For All – Including Those in Prison

AUGUST 18, 2022 

Sarah Harris, [email protected]
Morgan McLeod [email protected] (202) 628-0871 
Katie Scally [email protected] (408) 205-1257

The Poll Was Commissioned by Stand Up AmericaState Innovation ExchangeThe Sentencing Project, and Common Cause

Currently, Over 5 Million People in the Country, Including 1 in 16 Black People, Are Disenfranchised by State Laws That Prevent People With Felony Convictions From Voting

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Stand Up America, State Innovation Exchange, The Sentencing Project, and Common Cause released new national polling revealing that 56% of voters believe voting should be a guaranteed right for all. Respondents supported full restoration of voting rights to all citizens over the age of 18, including those completing a sentence, both inside and outside of prison. 

“Guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens, including those who are incarcerated, keeps people involved in their communities and gives justice impacted citizens a political stake in them when they return home. If citizenship does not stop at the prison gates, neither should the right to vote. It’s time for our country to reject the remnants of Jim Crow and commit to safer, more equitable communities,” said Reggie Thedford, deputy political director of Stand Up America. 

“Americans have made it very clear that they believe no father, son, mother, or daughter, should ever lose the right to vote, once they become eligible. For too long voting rights have been the privilege of select Americans. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and property ownership have historically been barriers to the right to vote, now felony disenfranchisement is the most pervasive form of voter suppression. To realize the promise of American democracy and address significant racial inequities, states must pass full rights restoration for people impacted by the criminal legal system,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Common Cause Census & Mass Incarceration Project Manager.

“This poll reveals that the majority of Americans believe the right to vote should be guaranteed for every person in our society – including those who have been impacted by the criminal legal system. It is time for lawmakers to listen to the will of the people and guarantee voting rights for people who are currently incarcerated and those with felony convictions. “We cannot continue to allow the state to take away our citizens’ inalienable right to cast their ballot in our democracy,” said Nicole D. Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy with The Sentencing Project.

“The poll demonstrates that a majority of voters believe it is all of our responsibility to protect the freedom to vote, including the freedom of individuals who are completing their sentences in and out of prison. The State Innovation Exchange will continue to work with movement leaders and legislators to build the shared power needed to protect the freedom to vote,” said Carmen López, Senior Director of Democracy with the State Innovation Exchange.
“The data confirms that most voters—a majority, in fact—are ready for a country where the right to vote is truly guaranteed for all Americans. Voters believe that every citizen of the United States has an obligation and a duty to vote and should have an equal say in what happens in our country and our community. Denying Americans the ability to vote not only denies a right, but it denies them the ability to fulfill their civic obligation to our democracy,” said Daniel Gotoff, Partner at Lake Research Partners.

In addition to strong overall support, younger voters, Black and Latino voters favored voting rights restoration with 65%, 71%, and 67% support, respectively. The polling also oversampled 200 likely voters in Illinois, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon – all states with recent or ongoing efforts to restore voting rights to justice impacted individuals.

Voters in the U.S. are ready for all citizens of this country to be eligible to vote no matter their relationship with the criminal justice system. Although many voters aren’t aware of the laws in their states around voting rights, the majority of them across the nation believe that every citizen should be eligible for and have the right to vote. 

The polling shows increased support from previous state and national polling on voting being a guaranteed right. The Huffington Post conducted a 2018 poll about guaranteeing voting rights for justice impacted individuals with minimal support across the board.

Additional toplines of the poll include

  • Voters who have a work connection (either themselves or a family member) to the criminal legal system, and voters who have a personal connection (either themselves or a family member) to being involved in the criminal legal system also had greater support for all citizens guaranteed the right to vote at 64% support and 72% support, respectively. 
  • 34% of respondents said they don’t know if citizens in their state who are incarcerated can vote, and another 33% say the same about citizens with past felony convictions. 

More information on the importance of voting rights restoration is available here.

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About Stand Up America
Stand Up America is a progressive advocacy organization with over two million community members across the country. Focused on grassroots advocacy to stand up to corruption and voter suppression and build a more representative democracy, Stand Up America has driven over 1.7 million calls to lawmakers, registered over 100,000 voters, mobilized thousands of protestors, and contacted tens of millions of voters.

About Common Cause
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.
Twitter: @CommonCause
Instagram: @OurCommonCause

About The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project is a leader in changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment and advocates for effective and humane responses to crime that minimize imprisonment and criminalization of youth and adults by promoting racial, ethnic, economic, and gender justice.  Our policy priorities envision the full inclusion in society of people with criminal records and an end to extreme punishments. Our aim is to center the leadership, voices, vision, and experience of those directly affected by mass incarceration to make the rationale for systemic change vivid, credible and compelling.

Twitter: @SentencingProj
Instagram: @TheSentencingProject 

About the State Innovation Exchange
Twitter: @stateinnovation
Facebook: @stateinnovationexchange 

State Innovation Exchange is a national resource and strategy center that collaborates with state legislators to improve people’s lives through transformative public policy. SiX works in close coordination with legislators, advocacy groups, think tanks, and activists to provide the tools and information legislators need to be successful. We are committed to building progressive power at the state level by providing lasting and personalized support for state legislators. 

About Lake Research Partners
Lake Research Partners (LRP) is a nationally recognized, woman-owned qualitative and quantitative research firm, with over 25 years of experience in all phases of public opinion research for public entities and private enterprises. Our principals are leading strategists, serving as tacticians and senior advisors to a wide range of advocacy groups, non-profits, and foundations, as well as dozens of elected officials at all levels of government.

Twitter: @Lake_Research