State felony disenfranchisement laws can be extremely confusing. And because they vary so widely, they lead to the persistent misperception that most people with convictions can never vote again. In fact, while at least 23 million Americans have been convicted of felonies, only 5 million to 6 million are actually disenfranchised under law.
Americans returning from federal prison face an even more confusing landscape. On top of the already complicated patchwork of state laws, some states treat federal convictions differently than in-state convictions — both for determining whether a federal conviction means the loss of voting rights and for the steps that an individual will have to take to get rights restored.
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