Almost half a million people could be affected by the pandemic when it comes to their right to vote. Though the pandemic requires us to be cautious, it’s important to understand how that could be a barrier to some people much more than it is to others.
Nearly 500,000 people who have the right to vote are inside city and county jails. These people are, of course, disproportionately Black people who make up nearly 40% of the incarcerated population. Due to the pandemic, things are more complicated than ever.
Restrictions on visitors and mail, as well as social distancing, have made it to where just surviving inside prisons and jails is a task. That’s not to mention voting, which has been under attack thanks to right-wing politicians trying to take advantage of this disaster. The future is hard to know.
Mass incarceration could possibly add hundreds of thousands to the death toll inside prisons and jails. People shouldn't have their lives put at risk to exercise their voting rights. And we need to make sure everyone's guaranteed rights are respected. That matters for a major reason.
The fate of the 2020 election hangs in the balance, and it’s impossible to know how this is all going to play out. When we speak up for people in prisons and jails, we’re taking a stand for Black people. It’s not just about voting, it’s about dignity, safety, and human rights.