Two states allow felons to vote from prison while other states may permanently ban felons from voting even after being released from prison, parole, and probation, and having paid all their fines.
The chart below provides links to each state's laws on felon voting and places each US state within one of five categories ranging from harshest (may lose vote permanently) to least restrictive (may vote while in prison). Applications for re-enfranchisement and clemency have been provided for the states which require them.
Felon voting has not been regulated federally although some argue that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act can be applied to felon disenfranchisement and that Congress has the authority to legislate felon voting in federal elections.
Click on the state to view its rules on felon disenfranchisement in PDF format. Documents were sourced directly from state codes, acts, orders, constitutions, or other state election office documents
May lose vote permanently:
Vote restored after:
Vote restored after:
Vote restored after:
(Some felons may vote depending on the state, crime committed, time elapsed since completion of sentence, and other variables)
Term of Incarceration +
Term of Incarceration +
Term of Incarceration
(Convicted felons may vote by absentee ballot while in prison)
II. Misdemeanor Convictions:
Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor in Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, and South Dakota may not vote while incarcerated. Kentucky and Missouri additionally require an executive pardon before allowing people convicted of certain misdemeanors ("high misdemeanors” in KY and "elections-related misdemeanors” in MO) from ever voting again. In Iowa, only persons convicted of an "aggravated" misdemeanor cannot vote while incarcerated.
In West Virginia only persons convicted of certain elections-related misdemeanors cannot vote while incarcerated - all others may vote by absentee ballot.
In the District of Columbia certain election, lobbying, and campaign finance-related crimes (that may be misdemeanors) are defined as felonies for the purpose of disenfranchisement under section 1-1001.02(7) of its code - all others with a misdemeanor conviction may vote by absentee ballot while incarcerated.
Individuals in the remaining 40 states may vote by absentee ballot while incarcerated for any misdemeanor.
III. More details on State Felon Voting Policies:
Alabama - Some persons convicted of a felony may apply to have their vote restored immediately upon completion of their full sentence. Those convicted of certain felony offenses such as murder, rape, incest, sexual crime against children, and treason are not eligible for re-enfranchisement.
Arizona - Automatic voting restoration upon completion of sentence and payment of all fines for first-time, single felony offenders. Second time felony offenders may apply for restoration with their county after completion of their sentence.
Delaware - On April 16, 2013 the Delaware Senate passed the Hazel D. Plant Voter Restoration Act in a 15-6 vote. The act amended the Delaware Constitution by removing the five year waiting period for most felons to regain the ability to vote. Persons convicted of a felony (with some exceptions) are now automatically eligible to vote after serving their full sentence including incarceration, parole, and probation.
Exceptions: Persons convicted of murder or manslaughter, a felony offense against public administration involving bribery, improper influence or abuse of office, or a felony sexual offense, remain permanently disqualified from voting.
Florida - On Mar. 9, 2011 the Florida rules of Executive Clemency were toughened. Automatic restoration of civil rights and the ability to vote will no longer be granted for any offenses. All individuals convicted of any felony will now have to apply for executive clemency after a five year waiting period. Individuals who are convicted, or who have previously been convicted, of certain felonies such as murder, assault, child abuse, drug trafficking, arson, etc. are subject to a seven year waiting period and a clemency board hearing to determine whether or not the ability to vote will be restored.
Prior to the Mar. 9, 2011 rule change some individuals convicted of nonviolent felonies were re-enfranchised automatically by the Clemency Board upon completion of their full sentence, including payment of fines and fees.
According to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition website (accessed Aug. 15, 2012), "If you were convicted of a felony in another state and had your civil rights restored before you became a Florida resident, you do not need to apply for RCR [restoration of civil rights] in Florida."
Iowa - On Jan. 14, 2011, the Republican Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, issued executive order 70, rescinding a law allowing people convicted of a felony to automatically have their ability to vote restored after completing their sentences. The automatic voting restoration law had been instituted by former Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack's signing of executive order 42 in 2005. Felons in Iowa must now pay all outstanding monetary obligations to the court in addition to completing their sentence and period of parole or probation. People convicted of a felony may then apply for restoration of the ability to vote.
Mississippi - Persons convicted of a felony are barred from voting only if they have been convicted of one or more of the following specific felony crimes (in alphabetical order): "murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, bigamy, armed robbery, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, larceny, receiving stolen property, robbery, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, statutory rape, carjacking, or larceny under lease or rental agreement"
To regain the ability to vote, an individual, after completion of his/her sentence, must go to his/her state representative and convince them to personally author a bill restoring the vote to that individual. Both houses of the legislature must then pass the bill. Re-enfranchisement can also be granted directly by the governor.
Individuals convicted of felonies in Mississippi remain eligible to vote for US President in federal elections.
Nebraska - Persons convicted of a felony are automatically permitted to vote two years after completion of their sentence of incarceration and all parole and probation for all convictions except treason.
Nevada - The vote is automatically restored to all persons convicted of a nonviolent felony after the sentence completion. Persons convicted of a violent felony and all second- time felony offenders (whether violent or nonviolent) are not automatically re-enfranchised. Those individuals must seek restoration of their voting abilities in the court in which they were convicted.
South Dakota - On Mar. 19, 2012, HB 1247 was enacted. The bill took the ability to vote away from convicted felons serving terms of probation. Previously, only persons on parole or incarcerated were ineligible to register to vote. Now convicted felons must serve their full term of incarceration, parole, and probation before they may register to vote.
Tennessee - All persons convicted of a felony since 1981, except for some serious felonies such as murder, rape, treason and voter fraud, may apply to the Board of Probation and Parole for voting restoration upon completion of their sentence.
Virginia - On May 29, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that he will automatically restore the ability to vote to all nonviolent felons who meet the following conditions:
1. have completed their term of incarceration and all probation or parole;
2. have paid all court costs, fines, and any restitution; and
3. have no pending felony charges.
Previously, individuals convicted of most nonviolent felonies had to wait two years to apply for a gubernatorial restoration of voting ability after completion of their sentence and the payment of any fines and restitution.
People convicted of violent felonies, drug sales or manufacturing, crimes against minors, and election law offenses must wait five years to apply for a gubernatorial restoration of rights.
For a listing of exactly which crimes are considered to be violent, and which are considered to be nonviolent, please see the Restoration of Rights(724 KB) page on the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth website.
Washington- All persons with a felony conviction must re-register to vote after completion of their sentence and all parole and probation. However, the Secretary of State's website states that persons who have "willfully failed to make three payments in a 12 month period" on any court imposed fines may have their ability to vote revoked by the prosecutor.
Wyoming - People convicted of a first-time nonviolent felony may apply to the Board of Parole for voting restoration five years after completion of their sentence, all others convicted of a felony must apply directly to the governor five years after completion of their sentence to have their voting ability restored.