Short Takes: Restoring Voting Rights(ex-felons)

Politician swearing an oath with fingers crossed behind back

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.

Racism & Felony Disenfranchisement

The United States stands alone among modern democracies in stripping voting rights from millions of citizens on the basis of criminal convictions.

The United States stands alone among modern democracies in stripping voting rights from millions of citizens on the basis of criminal convictions! Lifetime felon voting ban lawsuit filed in Mississippi . Mississippi’s constitution bars its citizens from voting ever again after being convicted of felonies. “Once you’ve paid your debt to society, I believe you should be allowed to participate again,” said plaintiff Kamal Karriem, a 58-year-old former Columbus city councilman who pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2005 after being charged with stealing a city cellphone. “I don’t think it should be held against you for the rest of your life.” 

Voting age citizens convicted of a felony are barred from voting for some period of time. While many states restore voting rights to individuals automatically after they exit jail or prison, others permanently disenfranchise people with a past felony conviction or require they petition the government to have their right restored.

Voting rights retained while incarcerated for a felony conviction in: Maine and Vermont. Voting rights restored automatically upon release from prison in: The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah. Voting rights restored automatically once released from prison and discharged from parole (probationers can vote) in: California, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York.

Voting rights restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation in: Alaska, Arizona ,Arkansas, Georgia , Idaho, Kansas , Louisiana Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas , Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Voting rights restoration is dependent on the type of conviction and/or the outcome of an individual petition or application to the government in: Alabama , Delaware, Mississippi, Nevada,Tennessee, and Wyoming. Voting rights can ONLY be restored through an individual petition or application to the government in: Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia.

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