Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jon Shields

Reader 2

Andrew Sinclair


In 2016, 6.1 million Americans were ineligible to vote due to a previous or current status of incarceration. In the United States, any crime charged at the federal level can levy a penalty of political disenfranchisement. In recent years, many states have begun to change their disenfranchisement laws. There is reason to believe that if a certain community is perceived by the individuals within the community to be represented in the political system, they are more likely to engage in political activities. Out of this determination comes a theory- if a large number of individuals in a community are re-enfranchised through the reversal of felony disenfranchisement laws, will the rest of the community (those who were never disenfranchised) be more likely to engage in their political system? If such a link exists, an argument could be constructed that links felony disenfranchisement policies to the political exclusion of entire groups of people. To study this, we conducted a study using econometric models which analyzed patterns in community voting in an attempt to quantify the effect of disenfranchisement by comparing district level political engagement over an eight-year period in areas where voting rights were and were not restored. The results of the study were then analyzed through the lenses of political psychology and political science, in an attempt to create a causal story that relates individual cases of disenfranchisement to broader community-level political engagement.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.