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Rhode Island approves measure giving felons on parole right to vote

[JURIST] Rhode Island on Tuesday granted some convicted felons the right to vote, according to the latest unofficial count of ballots on the state's Question 2 [PDF text]. Question 2 would amend the Rhode Island constitution [text] to grant the voting franchise to those felons who are currently serving parole or a probation sentence. Here are the latest Wednesday morning figures morning from the Rhode Island Board of Elections website, with 565 of 565 precincts reporting:

Question 2 APPROVE 191,453 - 51.52%
Question 2 REJECT 180,159 - 48.48%

Supporters of the amendment say [press release] it addresses key civil rights issues, pointing to statistics that show that black men are six times more likely to lose their voting rights in Rhode Island than whites. Detractors insisted that felons had to merit the franchise by serving out their full sentences. State Senator Lou Raptakis (D), a vocal critic of the amendment [press release], said during the campaign, "I believe the felons who turned their backs on the community by breaking our laws need to prove they are now worthy of our trust and the best way for them to do that is to complete the parole/probation portion of their sentence. I don't think it's too much to ask that they do that before having their voting rights restored." AP has more.

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