(Washington, DC – May 1, 2012) – Today, Def Jam recording artist 2 Chainz and the Hip Hop Caucus announced his role as a spokesperson for the 2012 non-partisan ‘Respect My Vote!’ campaign to register, educate and mobilize young voters between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. ‘Respect My Vote!’, led by a national coalition of civic engagement organizations, empowers the hardest to reach young voters by encouraging them to use their vote to affect the issues that impact their lives.
One of the groups that the ‘Respect My Vote!’ campaign targets is ex-felons who are often unaware of their voting rights. Many people believe that if convicted of a felony, you loose your right to vote forever, but in many situations that is not the case.
Having encountered this reality first hand, 2 Chainz, who is set to release an album this fall, will be raising awareness among young voters and countering misinformation about felon disenfranchisement.
“It meant so much to me when I learned that I had the right to vote, because I’m an ex-felon, who has been blessed with the opportunity to completely turn my life around and become a positive influence to my family and community. It’s very important that once disenfranchised men and women know they can be a part of American democracy again, they have second chance,“ said 2 Chainz. “I’m honored to be a spokesperson for the 2012 ‘Respect My Vote!’ campaign, and to be a part of a movement where celebrities and the community can work together to promote empowerment through political participation.”
The laws surrounding ex-felon voting rights vary from state to state, and in some states they are quite complex. Felon disenfranchisement laws disproportionately impact communities of color, silencing the voices of large portions of the African American community in particular. According to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 1.4 million African American men – thirteen percent (13%) of Black men – are disenfranchised at a rate seven (7) times the national average.
On top of regressive disenfranchisement laws, pervasive misinformation about what the laws are, keeps many eligible voters from the polls. ‘Respect My Vote!’, with 2 Chainz’s help, will be educating and encouraging ex-felons who legally have the right to vote to exercise their right this fall. Further, reforming felon disenfranchisement laws is one of the issues that ‘Respect My Vote!’ will highlight when discussing with young voters why their votes matter.
“Lives will be changed and lives will be saved because 2 Chainz is using his voice to speak authentically to those who have been disenfranchised,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. “2 Chainz is serious about empowering ex-felons to exercise their right to vote, and I’m so sincerely and deeply proud to be able to show the world that this is what democracy looks like.”
For more information on ex-felon voting laws from state to state, visit this information page on the Respect My Vote! website: http://respectmyvote.com/2011/11/ex-felons-voting-rights/.
About the Hip Hop Caucus: Formed in 2004, the Hip Hop Caucus (HHC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that leverages Hip Hop culture to encourage young people to participate in the democratic process. Through a collaborative leadership network, HHC addresses core issues affecting underserved communities. HHC programs and campaigns support solution-driven community organizing led by today’s young leaders.
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