On November 6, 2018, the people of Florida voted to amend their state’s constitution to restore voting rights to an estimated one and a half million citizens who had lost this right due to a prior felony conviction. In recognition of this significant restoration of rights, we’re re-airing our interview w/ Pippa Holloway on the history of felon disfranchisement and citizenship in America (originally aired Oct. 10, 2016) along with an additional interview w/ Pippa recorded Nov. 10, 2018 on the Florida amendment’s implications and the path to ratification. Bob and Ben support the voters of Florida, and believe that understanding the history of felon disfranchisement laws is an important step in restoring voting rights to the more than 4 million citizens in other states who have fulfilled their debt to society yet continue to be denied their right to vote.
To better understand the origins of felon disfranchisement laws, we invited Dr. Pippa Holloway of Middle Tennessee State University's Department of History to join us for a discussion about her most recent book Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2013). Pippa explains the ways that these laws were developed as a strategy to prevent black Americans from voting in the post-Civil War-era. This strategy was later exported to other states such as Idaho and Hawaii for the purpose of excluding groups whose interests were in opposition to the ruling party. Pippa also discusses the current impediments to Americans’ right to vote, and offers suggestions to ensure that Americans are not denied a voice in our political process.