Tennessee Democrat State Senator Raumesh Akbari Wants Voting Rights Restored for Certain Felons

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State Senate Minority Chairwoman Raumesh Akbari, a Democrat, plans to sponsor legislation that could automatically help restore the right to vote for people with low-level felony convictions.

But some research indicates felons, when given the chance, overwhelmingly pull the levers for Democrats.

Is Akbari, who represents Memphis’ 91st District, doing this to help the Democratic Party?

Akbari said no.

Akbari said in an emailed statement to The Tennessee Star that she wants Democrats and Republicans to support her forthcoming bill.

“I’m not drafting it to benefit a Republican or Democrat – but Tennesseans as a whole,” Akbari said, adding she has had meetings on this issue with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

Those meetings, she said, also included members of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

“Our sole focus was coming up with bipartisan criminal justice reform initiatives we could all agree on. Some form of automatic restoration of voting rights was among one of the many ideas we discussed and agreed on,” Akbari said.

“States that have some version of automatic restoration of rights varies- and many are traditionally Republican-led states like Utah, Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, and Alaska. On a national level, I know at one point automatic restoration received a strong endorsement from Senator Lindsey Graham.”

According to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, which studied the issue in other states, “those ex-felons who are registered overwhelmingly register as Democrats.”

The 2013 study analyzed voting in New York, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

“Of those discharge records that match to at least one voter file record, 61.5 percent match only to Democratic voter records,” according to the publication.

“In contrast, 25.5 percent match only to voter records with no affiliation or an affiliation with a minor party, while 9 percent match only to Republican voter records.”

The publication, however, said recently discharged ex-felons in New York voted at extremely low rates.

Ex-felons in New Mexico, meanwhile, also voted overwhelmingly Democrat.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, the study said “ex-felons are more Democratic than the general population of active registrants.”

Akbari told The Daily Memphian this week that “the proposed legislation would set up a referendum similar to one in Florida.” Voters there passed an amendment that enables about 1.2 million felons who’ve finished their sentences to go on voter rolls.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Raumesh Akbari” by Raumesh Akbari. 

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4 Thoughts to “Tennessee Democrat State Senator Raumesh Akbari Wants Voting Rights Restored for Certain Felons”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Maybe with the crime rate in her home town she is afraid of there being no one left to vote for her come next election time.

  2. Wolf Woman

    Voting is a privilege not a right. And if you commit a felony, you should lose that right. Losing your voting rights is a punishment that is commensurate with the crime you’ve committed against society, even if you have true remorse for your deed.

    I was once on a jury where a young man was being tried for beating his “friend” to death with a baseball bat over a bag of pot. He was a sociopath and had no remorse for his crime. We found him guilty but due the sentencing law, he would be out of jail in 7 years with good behavior. This young man and others of his ilk are not the people I want to choose our government reps.

    Ms Akbari and the Democrats should be ashamed at their blatant grab for felonious voters but it seems they have no shame.

    1. John Bumpus

      She should be ASHAMED? Dems have no shame, except FAKE SHAME! Dems are all about power. Dems do WHATEVER it takes to get, and keep, power! If that means ‘crocodile tears’ and fake shame, then that’s what Dems present to the public. But the real truth is: DEMS ARE SHAMELESS!

  3. Rick

    “Not trying to help just Democrats”?

    When she starts talking about restoring these same felon’s Second Amendment Rights, then I’ll believe her.