This post originally appeared on OTYCD in April 2019. Some of the text has been changed to reflect a happy update.
Learn which two states prevent felons who have fulfilled their sentences from voting, and learn how other states handle felons and voting rights.
Florida made headlines in November 2018 when about 65 percent of voters who turned out supported Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences.
Amendment 4 could re-enfranchise more than one million Florida voters, many of them black. Naturally, the GOP-controlled state legislature is trying to get around the implications of the new law by attempting what amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. (Fortunately, Andrew Gillum is on the case.)
Two other states are as restrictive as Florida once was with its felons. They are:
Kentucky was among this small group when OTYCD posted this story in April 2019. Since then, Kentuckians elected a Democratic governor, Andy Beshar, who signed an executive order to restore voting rights to felons in December 2019:
We at OTYCD are not aware of any Amendment 4-style efforts in Iowa and Virginia to change their laws, but if we learn of any, we will post them here and probably give them separate posts as well.
While lots of great things have been happening in Virginia since it elected a Democratic governor and since its state legislature went well and properly blue in November 2019, it faces a bigger hurdle to restoration: Disenfranchisement of felons is written into the state constitution.
See this April 2018 Brennan Center article on efforts to restore voting rights to felons in Virginia:
In 19 states, prisoners, parolees, and people on probation cannot vote, but everyone else can.
Those 19 states are:
Felons who live in these states could benefit from a public awareness campaign that lets them know that if they have completed their sentences, they are eligible to vote.
Four states bar prisoners and parolees from voting, but allow those on probation to vote. They are:
Again, a public awareness-raising campaign would be useful here.
Fourteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, only stop people in prison from voting. But, again, ex-prisoners, parolees, and folks on probation may not be aware that they’re eligible to vote. This group includes:
The District of Columbia
Just two states never take away their residents’ right to vote, even if they’re in prison: Vermont and Maine.
Getting as many people out to vote–both in 2019 election and the 2020 election–is crucial. Please know your rights and help others know their rights.
See the ACLU’s Felony Disenfranchisement Laws map:
See our past post about the ACLU, which includes links to its main page and a donation page:
Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!
See the OTYCD 2019 To-Do List, which stresses helping register people to vote:
Support Andrew Gillum’s org, Bring It Home Florida, which helps Floridians register to vote:
See an April 2018 piece from the New York Times on states’ laws regarding felons and voting rights: