Community Activism · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Learn Which Three States Prevent Felons Who Have Fulfilled Their Sentences from Voting, And Learn How Other States Handle Felons and Voting Rights

Learn which three 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.)

 

Three other states are as restrictive as Florida once was with its felons. They are:

 

Iowa

 

Kentucky

 

Virginia

 

We at OTYCD are not aware of any Amendment 4-style efforts in those states to change their laws, but if we learn of any, we will post them here and probably give them separate posts as well.

 

 

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:

 

Community Activism · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support the Efforts of Let America Vote

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017, but with the mid-terms approaching and the stakes rising, we are reposting past posts that discuss key things you can do to push back against Trump.

 

Support the efforts of Let America Vote, which fights attempts to make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot.

 

It’s disturbing to think that any political party in the United States sees lowering voter turnout as a positive strategy, but that is exactly the current attitude of the GOP. They have noticed that their candidates do better when fewer people come out, and they have pursued policies, such as voter ID legislation, which make it harder for people to vote.

 

The election of Donald Trump promises to make things worse. Losing the popular vote by three million votes clearly wounded his ego, so much so that on May 11 he launched the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Its co-leaders are Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a notorious fan of laws that restrict access to the ballot.

 

We need to push back against voter suppression, hard and often. Two out of five eligible citizens did not vote in November 2016. In order to strengthen democracy and undo the damage of Trump and the Republicans, we need to encourage non-voters to come out and exercise their rights–not just for presidential elections, but for primaries, mid-terms, and special elections. Trump fans and devoted Republicans have no interest in fixing the larger problem. We need to invite and recruit citizens who rarely or never vote.

 

Let America Vote helps the cause by fighting attempts to make it harder for people to vote. This takes the form of fighting restrictive bills and laws; questioning purges of voter rolls; and fighting those who try to intimidate voters.

 

 

Visit the Let America Vote page:

https://www.letamericavote.org

 

 

Learn about restrictive voting laws that might apply in your state:

https://www.letamericavote.org/states/

 

 

Read Let America Vote’s statement against Republican Karen Handel’s fundraising email that cited her outrage over citizens of Georgia’s 6th District gaining more time to register to vote:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/jason-kander-statement-karen-handels-outrage-eligible-georgia-voters-allowed-register-vote/

 

 

Read its statement on Trump’s task force on voter fraud:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/let-america-vote-statement-executive-order-creating-task-force-investigating-voter-fraud/

 

 

Like Let America Vote on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/letamericavote/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@LetAmericaVote

 

 

Apply to intern with Let America Vote:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc8QCrO26Rw_ciCPQSrfNEG8DuCCoZLAASK_ZsCIJ_s1YzAow/viewform

 

 

Volunteer to help Let America Vote:

https://secure.letamericavote.org/page/s/get-involved

 

 

Donate to Let America Vote:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/lav-main?recurring=true

 

 

Read about Trump’s voter fraud commission, the reputation of Kris Kobach, and the GOP’s inclination to suppress the vote:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/05/kris_kobach_is_leading_trump_s_vote_fraud_commission_that_s_terrifying.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Look Carefully at Your Local Polling Place. Is It Accessible to the Disabled?

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

 

Look carefully at your local polling place. Is it accessible to the disabled? Make note of what needs improving, and ask local electoral officials to make fixes before the 2018 midterms.

 

Today is November 7, 2017. Many state and local elections will take place. (Best of luck to the candidates OTYCD wrote about who are running in Virginia, New Jersey, and Manhattan.) If you’re going to the polls today, please look carefully at your local site and note how well it serves your disabled neighbors.

 

If you see things that need fixing, please bring them to the attention of your local electoral commission so they can be addressed before the 2018 midterms.

 

A note on photography: While you shouldn’t have problems taking photos of the exterior of the polling site, be careful when taking photos inside the voting area. Never photograph filled-out ballots, and make sure to take your photos when there’s no chance of a filled-out ballot appearing in your shot. If you end up needing to send your photos to state or local election officials, take care to blur the faces of any voters who are visible, to protect their privacy.

 

Things to look for:

 

Are there accessible parking spots near the poll site? Are they clearly designated and marked as such? Is at least one of the parking spots van-accessible (There’s a parking space and an area to one side of the parking space that’s painted with white or yellow diagonals)?

 

Are there ramps or a side entrance with no stairs that a disabled person could use to enter the building? Are the entrance doors wide enough to admit a wheelchair and easy for a wheelchair user to open (no funky old locks or latches)?

 

Once inside the building, are there sufficient elevators and ramps to allow disabled people to reach the area where the voting booths are placed? Are the elevators wide enough for a wheelchair? Are the elevator buttons at a height that wheelchair users can reach (no higher than four feet from the floor)?

 

Are there signs that point voters to the polling site? Where are they hung? How legible are the signs–are they clearly written and clearly printed? If your community speaks more than one language, are there signs in every major language? (If the poll provides ballots in that language, it should have signage in that language, too.)

 

Is the actual voting area laid out in a way that would allow wheelchair users to get around easily?

 

Is there at least one booth that’s wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? Does it have a writing surface that’s at a height that would be useful to a wheelchair user?

 

Is there at least one vote-tally machine that is designed for use by wheelchair users?

 

What options are provided for blind voters, and for people who don’t use wheelchairs but who might need to sit to fill out their ballot?

 

Is there a long line to vote? (If you have a stopwatch function on your phone, use it to time the length of the wait.) Was the weather bad or challenging in any way? What accommodations are there (if any) for people who cannot stand for extended periods of time?

 

If the site cannot be made sufficiently accessible for disabled voters, does it offer curbside voting instead?

 

Another note for those who have disabled friends who want to vote: Do not advocate for them unless they explicitly ask you to help them.

 

If they do ask you for help, listen to what they say, watch what they do, and be alert to their needs. When in doubt, ask them what they want you to do. When you’re both in doubt, you might want to call your state Protection and Advocacy Hotline (scroll down for the link).

 

If you do spot something that seems like a problem, do not storm up to a pollworker and demand it be fixed then and there. Instead, compose an email or letter, or write down a script to use when calling the officials who choose, equip, and operate polling places.

 

Stay factual. Stick to describing what you saw, explaining why it’s problematic, and asking what can be done to make it better.

 

Keep following up on your request with the goal of fixing things before the 2018 primaries take place.

 

 

If you or someone who came with you to the polls are denied their right to vote–for any reason–you can call the Election Protection Coalition Hotline. A trained lawyer will answer and help with troubleshooting:

1.866.OUR.VOTE (1.866.687.8683)

 

 

If you or a disabled friend hit a disability-related problem that stops you from voting, you can call your state’s Protection and Advocacy Voter Hotline:

http://www.advocacymonitor.com/directory-of-protection-and-advocacy-voter-assistance-hotlines-2016/

 

 

Here’s a link that will help you find your state or local election officials:

https://www.usa.gov/election-office

 

 

Here’s a link to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places:

Click to access votingchecklist.pdf

 

 

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 National Disability Rights Network’s page on voting:

http://www.ndrn.org/en/public-policy/voting.html

 

 

See the National Council on Independent Living’s links to resources on making the vote accessible:

https://www.ncil.org/votingrights/voting-accessibility-media-resources/

 

 

Special thanks to Sarah at the National Council on Independent Living for her help with researching this post.

Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Help Florida’s Ex-Felons Regain The Right to Vote

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.

Help ex-felons in Florida regain the right to vote by supporting efforts to change a punitive state law.

 

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shone a light on this issue recently. Florida is one of just three states that revokes ex-felons’ voting rights for life. As you read this, more than 1.5 million Floridians cannot vote. That amounts to roughly 10 percent of Florida’s adult population, and about 20 percent of all African-Americans living in the state.

 

Some Floridians hope to change the law. They need 700,000 of their fellow citizens to sign a petition that will place the question of restoring voting rights to ex-felons on the state’s 2018 ballot.

 

If you haven’t yet, see the Full Frontal With Samantha Bee segment:

https://www.miamirights.com

 

 

If you live in Florida, click the link below and sign the petition to place the question on the 2018 ballot. If you don’t, print out the PDF at the link below and send it to someone you know who does:

Click to access b14935_60c594c5deec411dae612e7a324057c2.pdf

 

 

Donate to the Say Yes to Second Chances effort:

https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-182950647699273984

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Read about the effects of the Florida law, and read about the people who are trying to change it:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/perspective/floridas-felon-vote-destroying-lives-and-wasting-taxpayer-dollars/2307853

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article95076927.html

https://www.wuft.org/news/2017/04/14/activists-push-for-ex-felon-voter-rights-restoration/

https://www.wuft.org/news/2017/04/14/activists-push-for-ex-felon-voter-rights-restoration/

 

 

Also, visit the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee website:

http://www.samanthabee.com

 

 

Follow Full Frontal With Samantha Bee on Twitter:

@FullFrontalSamB

 

 

Like the show on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/fullfrontalsamb

 

 

And check out the spiffy merch in the show’s online shop:

https://shop.tbs.com

Community Activism · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support the Efforts of Let America Vote

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

Support the efforts of Let America Vote, which fights attempts to make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot.

It’s disturbing to think that any political party in the United States sees lowering voter turnout as a positive strategy, but that is exactly the current attitude of the GOP. They have noticed that their candidates do better when fewer people come out, and they have pursued policies, such as voter ID legislation, which make it harder for people to vote.

The election of Donald Trump promises to make things worse. Losing the popular vote by three million votes clearly wounded his ego, so much so that on May 11 he launched the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Its co-leaders are Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a notorious fan of laws that restrict access to the ballot.

We need to push back against voter suppression, hard and often. Two out of five eligible citizens did not vote in November 2016. In order to strengthen democracy and undo the damage of Trump and the Republicans, we need to encourage non-voters to come out and exercise their rights–not just for presidential elections, but for primaries, mid-terms, and special elections. Trump fans and devoted Republicans have no interest in fixing the larger problem. We need to invite and recruit citizens who rarely or never vote.

Let America Vote helps the cause by fighting attempts to make it harder for people to vote. This takes the form of fighting restrictive bills and laws; questioning purges of voter rolls; and fighting those who try to intimidate voters.

 

Visit the Let America Vote page:

https://www.letamericavote.org

 

Learn about restrictive voting laws that might apply in your state:

https://www.letamericavote.org/states/

 

Read Let America Vote’s statement against Republican Karen Handel’s fundraising email that cited her outrage over citizens of Georgia’s 6th District gaining more time to register to vote:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/jason-kander-statement-karen-handels-outrage-eligible-georgia-voters-allowed-register-vote/

 

Read its statement on Trump’s task force on voter fraud:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/let-america-vote-statement-executive-order-creating-task-force-investigating-voter-fraud/

 

Like Let America Vote on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/letamericavote/

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@LetAmericaVote

 

Apply to intern with Let America Vote:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc8QCrO26Rw_ciCPQSrfNEG8DuCCoZLAASK_ZsCIJ_s1YzAow/viewform

 

Volunteer to help Let America Vote:

https://secure.letamericavote.org/page/s/get-involved

 

Donate to Let America Vote:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/lav-main?recurring=true

 

Read about Trump’s voter fraud commission, the reputation of Kris Kobach, and the GOP’s inclination to suppress the vote:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/05/kris_kobach_is_leading_trump_s_vote_fraud_commission_that_s_terrifying.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!