European Mission critiques U.S. Disenfranchisement policies

Reprint from The Sentencing Project/ Disenfranchisement News


OSCE Report critical of U.S. Disenfranchisement Policies


The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSDE/ODIHR) sent a team of observers to monitor the 2012 general elections in the United States. The observation mission assessed the implementation procedures of the election in regard to compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards, as well as national legislation.

In its assessment of the impact of felony disenfranchisement on the elections, the OSCE’s preliminary report notes that “An estimated 5.9 million citizens were disenfranchised due to a criminal conviction, including some 2.6 million citizens who have served their sentences. This is at odds with the principle of universal suffrage and the commitment to ensure proportionality in the restriction of voting rights as enshrined in paragraphs 7.3 and 24 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document.” The report further notes that “The deprivation of the right to vote is a severe penalty and it should be proportionate to the underlying crime. In addition, once a sentence has been served, authorities should take effective measures to facilitate the restoration of voting rights.” The OSCE is expected to produce a final report on the elections in the coming months.