PUBLISHED: 5:48 PM on Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Senator Davis works to restore voting rights
Alaskans are turned away from voting booths by the hundreds - and the people turned away are overwhelmingly Alaska Natives. They were convicted of a felony, but didn't have their right to vote restored after completingEtheir sentences. This can go on for years, even a decade, after release from incarceration.

Senate Bill 26, a bill carried by Sen. Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage), aims to reverse this injustice.

"The loss of voting rights in Alaska lasts beyond prison, long after the person has been living in the community again," says Senator Davis. "This person is paying taxes, fulfilling family obligations, and contributing to the community. They have paid their debt to society."

EOver 4,000 otherwise qualified voters in Alaska are denied the right to vote, even though they are no longer incarcerated. In fact, the loss of voting rights does not even end at the completion of parole, but continues throughout the probationary period.

EThe racial disparities are stark among Alaska's disenfranchised. While Alaska Natives make up 15.6 percent of Alaska's total population, Alaska Natives make up 37.4 percent of the disenfranchised population. African Americans make up 3.5 percent of Alaska's population, but account for 8.2 percent of people who have lost their right to vote.