Text: H.R.3576 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (09/15/2009)

 
[Congressional Bills 111th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3576 Introduced in House (IH)]

111th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 3576

 To secure the Federal voting rights of certain qualified ex-offenders 
                    who have served their sentences.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           September 15, 2009

  Mr. Rangel introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                       Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To secure the Federal voting rights of certain qualified ex-offenders 
                    who have served their sentences.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Ex-Offenders Voting Rights Act of 
2009''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The right to vote is the most basic constitutive act of 
        citizenship and regaining the right to vote reintegrates 
        offenders into free society. The right to vote may not be 
        abridged or denied by the United States or by any State on 
        account of race, color, gender, or previous condition of 
        servitude. Basic constitutional principles of fairness and 
        equal protection require an equal opportunity for United States 
        citizens to vote in Federal elections.
            (2) Congress has ultimate supervisory power over Federal 
        elections, an authority that has repeatedly been upheld by the 
        Supreme Court.
            (3) Although State laws determine the qualifications for 
        voting in Federal elections, Congress must ensure that those 
        laws are in accordance with the Constitution. Currently, those 
        laws vary throughout the Nation, resulting in discrepancies 
        regarding which citizens may vote in Federal elections.
            (4) An estimated 5,300,000 individuals in the United 
        States, or 1 in 41 adults, currently cannot vote as a result of 
        a felony conviction. Women represent about 676,000 of those 
        5,300,000.
            (5) State disenfranchisement laws disproportionately impact 
        ethnic minorities.
            (6) Ten States disenfranchise some or all ex-offenders who 
        have fully served their sentences, regardless of the nature or 
        seriousness of the offense.
            (7) In those States that disenfranchise ex-offenders who 
        have fully served their sentences, the right to vote can be 
        regained in theory, but in practice this possibility is often 
        illusory. In 2 States, for certain felonies, a pardon is 
        required.
            (8) Few persons who seek to have their right to vote 
        restored have the financial and political resources needed to 
        succeed.
            (9) Thirteen percent of the African-American adult male 
        population, or 1,400,000 African-American men, are 
        disenfranchised. Given current rates of incarceration, 3 in 10 
        African-American men in the next generation will be 
        disenfranchised at some point during their lifetimes. Hispanic 
        citizens are also disproportionately disenfranchised, since 
        those citizens are disproportionately represented in the 
        criminal justice system.
            (10) The discrepancies described in this subsection should 
        be addressed by Congress, in the name of fundamental fairness 
        and equal protection.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to restore fairness in the 
Federal election process by ensuring that ex-offenders who have fully 
served their sentences are not denied the right to vote.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Correctional institution or facility.--The term 
        ``correctional institution or facility'' means any prison, 
        penitentiary, jail, or other institution or facility for the 
        confinement of individuals convicted of criminal offenses, 
        whether publicly or privately operated, except that such term 
        does not include any residential community treatment center (or 
        similar public or private facility).
            (2) Election.--The term ``election'' means--
                    (A) a general, special, primary, or runoff 
                election;
                    (B) a convention or caucus of a political party 
                held to nominate a candidate;
                    (C) a primary election held for the selection of 
                delegates to a national nominating convention of a 
                political party; or
                    (D) a primary election held for the expression of a 
                preference for the nomination of persons for election 
                to the office of President.
            (3) Federal office.--The term ``Federal office'' means the 
        office of President or Vice President, or of Senator or 
        Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, 
        Congress.
            (4) Parole.--The term ``parole'' means parole (including 
        mandatory parole), or conditional or supervised release 
        (including mandatory supervised release), imposed by a Federal, 
        State, or local court.
            (5) Probation.--The term ``probation'' means probation, 
        imposed by a Federal, State, or local court, with or without a 
        condition on the individual involved concerning--
                    (A) the individual's freedom of movement;
                    (B) the payment of damages by the individual;
                    (C) periodic reporting by the individual to an 
                officer of the court; or
                    (D) supervision of the individual by an officer of 
                the court.

SEC. 4. RIGHTS OF CITIZENS.

    The right of an individual who is a citizen of the United States to 
vote in any election for Federal office shall not be denied or abridged 
because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense 
unless, at the time of the election, such individual--
            (1) is serving a felony sentence in a correctional 
        institution or facility; or
            (2) is on parole or probation for a felony offense.

SEC. 5. ENFORCEMENT.

    (a) Attorney General.--The Attorney General may bring a civil 
action in a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such declaratory 
or injunctive relief as is necessary to remedy a violation of this Act.
    (b) Private Right of Action.--
            (1) Notice.--A person who is aggrieved by a violation of 
        this Act may provide written notice of the violation to the 
        chief election official of the State involved.
            (2) Action.--Except as provided in paragraph (3), if the 
        violation is not corrected within 90 days after receipt of a 
        notice provided under paragraph (1), or within 20 days after 
        receipt of the notice if the violation occurred within 120 days 
        before the date of an election for Federal office, the 
        aggrieved person may bring a civil action in such a court to 
        obtain the declaratory or injunctive relief with respect to the 
        violation.
            (3) Action for violation shortly before a federal 
        election.--If the violation occurred within 30 days before the 
        date of an election for Federal office, the aggrieved person 
        shall not be required to provide notice to the chief election 
        official of the State under paragraph (1) before bringing a 
        civil action in such a court to obtain the declaratory or 
        injunctive relief with respect to the violation.

SEC. 6. RELATION TO OTHER LAWS.

    (a) No Prohibition on Less Restrictive Laws.--Nothing in this Act 
shall be construed to prohibit a State from enacting any State law that 
affords the right to vote in any election for Federal office on terms 
less restrictive than those terms established by this Act.
    (b) No Limitation on Other Laws.--The rights and remedies 
established by this Act shall be in addition to all other rights and 
remedies provided by law, and shall not supersede, restrict, or limit 
the application of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973 et 
seq.) or the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg 
et seq.).
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