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Learn Which Two States Prevent Felons Who Have Fulfilled Their Sentences from Voting, And Learn How Other States Handle Felons and Voting Rights (Updated Feb 2020)

 

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:

 

Iowa

 

Virginia

 

 

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:

https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/12/13/kentucky-felon-voting-rights

Hooray!

 

 

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:

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-rights-restoration-efforts-virginia

 

 

In 19 states, prisoners, parolees, and people on probation cannot vote, but everyone else can.

Those 19 states are:

 

Alaska

 

New Jersey

 

West Virginia

 

North Carolina

 

South Carolina

 

Georgia

 

Wisconsin

 

Minnesota

 

South Dakota

 

Nebraska

 

Missouri

 

Kansas

 

Arkansas

 

Oklahoma

 

Louisiana

 

Texas

 

New Mexico

 

Idaho

 

Washington

 

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:

 

California

 

New York

 

Colorado

 

Connecticut

 

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:

 

Rhode Island

 

New Hampshire

 

Massachusetts

 

Pennsylvania

 

Maryland

 

Ohio

 

Michigan

 

Indiana

 

Illinois

 

North Dakota

 

Montana

 

Utah

 

Oregon

 

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:

https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/voter-restoration/felony-disenfranchisement-laws-map

 

See our past post about the ACLU, which includes links to its main page and a donation page:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2018/12/08/support-the-american-civil-liberties-union-aclu/

 

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:

https://onethingyoucando.com/your-2019-to-do-list/

 

Support Andrew Gillum’s org, Bring It Home Florida, which helps Floridians register to vote:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2019/03/31/help-andrew-gillum-register-floridians-to-vote-in-time-for-the-2020-presidential-race/

 

See an April 2018 piece from the New York Times on states’ laws regarding felons and voting rights: