Barriers to the Ballot: Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws

(882 Ratings)

Produced on: April 11, 2016

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 63 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

An estimated 5.85 million U.S. citizens have been denied the right to vote due to a criminal conviction. Criminal disenfranchisement has grown with mass incarceration – from 1.17 million citizens in 1976 to 3.34 million citizens in 1996 – and broadly impacts the composition of the electorate in local, state and federal elections.


This course examines the prevalence and impact of criminal disenfranchisement laws in the United States. The discussion provides an overview of the issue of disenfranchisement following a criminal conviction, the history of criminal disenfranchisement laws, and the disproportionate impact of such laws on racial minorities. The course compares disenfranchisement laws among states, and outlines recent developments in states’ disenfranchisement rules. The course also includes a discussion of federal and state court challenges to disenfranchisement laws, and recent developments in criminal disenfranchisement within the Executive and Legislative branches.


Learning Objectives:

I.     Understand the history of criminal disenfranchisement in the U.S.

II.   Assess how criminal disenfranchisement impacts the modern electorate

III.   Identify the structure of states’ various disenfranchisement laws

IV.   Provide guidance on recent court challenges to disenfranchisement laws and developments within the Executive and Legislative branches


Julie Ebenstein

American Civil Liberties Union

Julie is a staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Julie is actively involved in litigating voting rights matters around the country, with cases in Kansas (challenging the state dual registration system), Iowa (challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement laws), North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration) and Ferguson, Missouri (challenging at-large school board elections)

Leading up to the 2012 general election, Julie was a staff attorney with the ACLU of Florida. She was counsel in several voting rights cases, including litigation preventing reductions to early voting, a successful constitutional challenge to restrictions on voter registration drives, a challenge to Florida’s purge of the state voter rolls, and a challenge to the non-uniformity of elections laws among Florida counties. She also wrote and testified on the discriminatory effect of criminal disfranchisement laws and the intersection of over-criminalization and voting rights.

Before joining the ACLU, Julie focused on refugee protection issues, working first with the International Rescue Committee on the Thailand-Myanmar border, then with Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa. Prior to law school, Julie served as Policy & Advocacy Associate with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Julie is a graduate of Columbia University and Fordham University School of Law. She is admitted to practice in New York and Florida.


Allen A.

ACLU voting rights lawyer talking about her own cases! Excellent!

Geoffrey K.

Very good program and excellent presentation.

E Lynne F.

More courses on topics like this please!

Helen F.

Exceptional presenter!

Eric P.

Interesting program from a well-qualified presenter.

Ajua H.

Very interesting lecture.

Cecilia C.

Informative and the content presented barriers to disenfranchisement, a horrendous injustice in America, in a matter of fact way.

Christina J.

very enlightening! Thank you!

Kathryn S.


kelly w.

The instructor was excellent.

Rafiah B.

Very interesting, listened 2x

David L.

Very useful.

Arianne U.

i give high marks for everyone, but she was particularly great.

Rita D.

One of the best presentations I've listened to in this bundle.

James W.

thank you

Brian W.

Excellent presentation.

Thomas B. M.

Good information.

Kirk L.


Andrew C.

Good program.

Mary F.

The presenter and content are exceptional!

Michael B.

timely course

Diane E.

interesting and alarming

Joseph B.

Excellent speaker

Steve S.

It was interesting

Stacey T.

Very good.

Daniel L.

A lot of information but very good.

Henry H.

Clear, relevant and very well informed presentation. Highly recommend.

T. J. D.

very nice job!

Louis D.

Excellent summation of current laws and cases on subject.

Load More


$ 59 Constitutional Law, Election, Campaign, & Political Law, Civil Rights, and Public Interest Law In Stock


Get Unlimited Access to Lawline Courses

Unlimited CLE Subscription gives you access to take almost any course from our catalog and earn as much CLE credit as you need.