Lawmakers in the region say they're concerned about a racial divide in voter eligibility.
After the Civil War, a constitutional amendment tried to guarantee voting rights for all. That was before local and state governments passed Jim Crow laws, which made voting next to impossible for African-Americans in the South.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) says similar restrictions are keeping large blocks of Americans from ever entering a voting booth today. He says state laws, especially in places like Virginia, banning felons from voting cause African-Americans to be disenfranchised four times as often.
“So we have around four million people who are out in the community who have been disenfranchised in their right to vote. To me this is the Jim Crow law or one of the Jim Crow laws of our time," Cardin says.
Cardin hopes to pass a bill granting the vote to felons who have served their time, even for violent crimes. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul supports the effort, but his legislation doesn’t apply to violent felons.