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WASHINGTON, D.C. – An amendment introduced by House Progressives that would have given prison inmates the right to vote never got a chance to leave the chamber, as it was soundly voted down by both Republican members of Congress.
The amendment was authored by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) with backing from Reps. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).
Bush’s bill would have amended the voting rights legislation known as HR 1 – known as the “For the People Act,” which was recently re-introduced into the House and Senate after initially failing in 2019 – by allowing those who are currently serving prison sentences to vote.
However, Bush’s amendment failed, as it was not only voted against by all House Republicans, but a vast majority of Democrats; the final vote was 97 to 328, which means that 119 Democrats and 209 Republicans did not approve of the bill.
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Afterwards, Bush tweeted out her displeasure in the lack of support her amendment received; prior to the House vote, she claimed that preventing inmates from voting disproportionately affects black people.
“For the first time ever, the House took a vote on whether or not to end the cruelty of denying incarcerated people their right to vote. Our amendment didn’t pass, but 97 Democrats voted with us,” she tweeted. “We will not stop fighting until we dismantle white supremacy in all of its forms.”
Meanwhile, Samantha Bullock, Spokeswomen for the National Republican Congressional Committee, issued a statement critical of the attempt to give incarcerated felons the right to vote.
“The American people are probably wondering why Congress is wasting its time debating whether or not to grant convicted murderers additional rights,” she said. “The answer is because Nancy Pelosi and her socialist colleagues like Jahana Hayes control the House of Representatives.”
In most U.S. states, a convicted felon is stripped of their right to vote in elections when they are incarcerated; currently, only Maine, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow inmates to continue to vote while in prison.