More than half of the electorate in this Saturday’s Democratic primary is expected to be black, and the candidates are already clamoring for their support. But that number won’t include a large portion of the state’s African American population: More than 33,000 people in South Carolina are behind bars, and 62 percent of the prison population is black.
Most of those people are not eligible to vote. In 2012, the state legislature took voting rights away from state residents on parole and today, more than 48,000 South Carolina residents in prison, on parole, and on probation are disenfranchised by felony or misdemeanor convictions. African Americans make up 64 percent of South Carolina’s disfranchised population, even though they comprise only 27 percent of the state’s voting age population. One out of every 27 African American voters is disfranchised in South Carolina, compared to one out of 65 South Carolina voters.