Headshot of Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union of Texas
  • Sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
  • Service location Houston, Texas
  • Law school The University of Texas School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Human Rights, Voting Rights/Electoral Participation
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ashley (she/her/hers) will work to protect the voting rights of Texans affected by the criminal justice system by expanding voting access to people incarcerated pretrial, people formerly incarcerated, and low-income communities. 

Texas’ intentional disenfranchisement laws have left the state with the lowest rate of voter turnout in the country, and Texas has one of the highest rates of criminal convictions. Voting is even harder for those who encounter the criminal justice system—disproportionately Black, Latino, and low-income people. 

Three-quarters of Harris County’s 9,000-person jail population are eligible voters; however, it is nearly impossible to vote in a Texas jail. People convicted of felonies are eligible to vote in Texas once they have completed their sentence, including parole or probation, but there is often tremendous confusion about eligibility. When people impacted by the criminal justice system do vote, they face obstacles. They often live and work in communities with fewer resources for voting. 

Fellowship Plans

Ashley’s project will use community outreach, policy advocacy, and impact litigation to address voter suppression. She will provide voting access for people incarcerated pretrial or for misdemeanors through outreach about voter eligibility, registering to vote, and instructions for voting. She will help inform people who have completed sentences for felonies about their restored voting rights and help clarify eligibility requirements. Ashley will also work to ensure equitable polling locations and voting resources are available in communities most impacted by the criminal justice system. 

Voting is power. I want to help return power to communities that need it most.

Ashley Harris /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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