While many states have made it easier for people convicted of felonies to vote, Tennessee has gone in the other direction.
Leola Scott recently decided to become a more active citizen. The 55-year-old resident of Dyersburg, Tennessee, was driven to action after her son was stabbed to death and nobody was charged.
In August, Scott tried to register to vote. That’s when she learned she’s not allowed to cast a ballot because she was convicted of nonviolent felonies nearly 20 years ago.
One in five Black Tennesseans are like Scott: barred from voting because of a prior felony conviction. Indeed, Tennessee appears to disenfranchise a far higher proportion of its Black residents — 21% — than any other state.