The ACLU is waging a class action lawsuit to fight disenfranchisement of American Indian voters in South Dakota:
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of South Dakota on behalf of Kim Colhoff, Eileen Janis and others, who attempted to vote in the election but were improperly removed from the voter rolls due to felony convictions. Because state law only disfranchises individuals sentenced to prison and both women were just sentenced to probation, election officials unlawfully took away their voting rights.
"Felony disfranchisement laws in South Dakota have a disproportionate impact on American Indians, who represent the majority of those convicted of felonies at the federal level," said Robert Doody, Executive Director of the ACLU, South Dakota Chapter. "Worse still, it's clear that confusion regarding the South Dakota felony disfranchisement laws has resulted in legitimate voters, even those who haven't been incarcerated for felony convictions, being purged from the rolls or denied the ability to register to vote or cast their ballots" ["ACLU Challenges Illegal Disfranchisement Of American Indian Voters In South Dakota," ACLU press release, 2010.02.08].
Taking the vote away from any legal voter is unacceptable. I've heard some good arguments that even our disenfranchisement of incarcerated felons may go too far. Certainly, criminals surrender certain rights when they violate the social contract... but can we justify sentencing, say, an embezzler or a drunk driver to permanent exclusion from participation in affairs of state? One of the best ways to help a felon rehabilitate is to make that felon feel more connection to the community. The right to vote on community issues forges a pretty significant connection.