Tomas Lopez & Kwame Akosah
More than 6 million American citizens are unable to vote because of a past criminal conviction. As many as 4.7 million of these citizens live, work, and raise families in our communities. But because of a conviction in their past they are still denied this fundamental democratic right. These laws, deeply rooted in our troubled racial history, have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Across the country, one in every 13 voting-age African Americans have lost their right to vote, which is four times the rate for all other Americans. The Brennan Center is a leading voice in a nationwide effort to restore voting rights to these Americans. Our staff counsels policymakers and advocates, provides legal and constitutional analysis, drafts legislation and regulations, engages in litigation challenging disenfranchising laws, surveys the implementation of existing laws, and promotes the restoration of voting rights through public outreach and education.
Tomas Lopez is Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, where his work focuses on voting rights and elections. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, he was a fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project. There, he worked on litigation and advocacy challenging antiimmigrant legislation in Alabama. He also previously served as the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program Fellow at the University of Arizona, Rogers College of Law, where he supervised workers’ rights cases in the law school’s immigration clinic and co-authored a report on the impact of Arizona’s immigration law on young people. Tomas is a graduate of Duke University (2006) and Yale Law School (2010).
Kwame is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Brennan Center, working primarily in the Democracy Program on voting rights restoration for people with criminal convictions. Prior to the Brennan Center, he interned with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, and Project Vote. Kwame is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles and Fordham Law School where he received the Monsignor James J. Murray Prize for Achievement in Public Service, and the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award. His fellowship is sponsored by the Ottinger Foundation and Greenberg Traurig, LLP.