Undergraduate Honors Theses


Manufacturing Discrimination: A Quantitative Analysis of Felon Disenfranchisement Laws

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. John Griffin

Second Advisor

Dr. Janet Donavan

Third Advisor

Dr. Diana Oliveras


Felon disenfranchisement laws pose a unique threat to the fundamental ideal of our democracy that every individual deserves equal representation in government. Drawing from the literature on felon disenfranchisement, these laws have racially discriminatory effects by disproportionately depriving black and other minority voters of their voting rights. This paper analyzes the claims made by the academic community through the use of statistical techniques to assess their overall effectiveness at predicting both patterns of felon disenfranchisement laws across states today and the changing strictness of felon disenfranchisement laws since the turn of the century. Ultimately, this paper finds the claims made by the academic community to be significant in predicting the strictness of felon disenfranchisement laws today, but wholly insignificant in predicting the changing severity of felon disenfranchisement laws over the last two decades. These findings suggest alternative explanations for contemporary changes to felon disenfranchisement laws and open the door for the academic community to explore the causal relationships surrounding felon disenfranchisement laws moving forward.

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