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In Nevada, Silver State Voices and its partners helped restore the right to vote to 77,000 formerly incarcerated Nevadans by engaging in legislative advocacy and public education.

June 24, 2022

Program

Integrated Civic Engagement

State Table

Silver State Voices

Case Study

In Nevada, Silver State Voices and its partners helped restore the right to vote to 77,000 formerly incarcerated Nevadans by engaging in legislative advocacy and public education.

The Challenge

Many people are marginalized from the civic process through having their voting rights stripped from them.

The U.S. is one of the only countries that takes away voting rights from incarcerated people, and the U.S. also has the largest incarceration rates in the world. The disproportionate incarceration of Black people in the U.S is a legacy of slavery and continues to serve as a voter suppression tactic. Felony disenfranchisement laws were created to prevent Black people from voting, and disparately impact Indigenous people, Latinx people, and other communities.

In Nevada, the process for people to restore their rights after leaving prison was overly complicated, and left many confused due to varying requirements depending on the crime.

The Approach

Silver State Voices and its partners testified in 2019 in support of state bill AB431 to restore rights.

Their combined efforts paid off, and in July 2019 the state restored voting rights for people with felonies immediately upon release from prison.

To engage the 77,000 people who were enfranchised, SSV launched the Uncaged Votes Uplift Communities campaign to register, educate, and engage this new voting block. A component of the campaign included creating a hotline for formerly incarcerated individuals to call, vent, and receive assistance as they registered to vote, and connect them with resources as needed.

Emily Zamora stands at podium to help register voters.

Nevada Executive Director, Emily Zamora stands at podium to help register voters after the passage of Assembly Bill 431 automatically restoring voting rights to people released from prison.

“How do we have a conversation with people about voting when people are fighting to get food on their table?”

— Emily Persaud-Zamora, Executive Director of Silver State Voices

Our Impact

Only a quarter of disenfranchised folks are actually incarcerated, and the vast majority are living in communities, trying to rebuild their lives after going through the carceral system.

By combining legislative advocacy with education and outreach, Silver State Voices and its partners have helped people impacted by this system to have a voice in the democratic process.

Conclusion

Achieving a truly healthy democracy where we can all participate will take multiple strategies.

At State Voices, we believe it’ll take a collective effort of varied tactics—integrated civic engagement—to get to the democracy our communities deserve. Expanding voting rights is a critical piece of the puzzle, but so are engaging in education and outreach, and providing aid and support.

Silver State Voices staff and election protection volunteers pose next to a local food truck.