Last updated on: 9/14/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

State Felon Voting Laws

 

9 States*: May Lose Vote Permanently

Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, & Wyoming

*As of Aug. 5, 2020, no states have a total ban on voting by former felons.

19 States: Vote Restored after Prison, Parole, & Probation

Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, & Wisconsin

2 States: Vote Restored after Prison & Parole

California & Connecticut

18 States & DC: Vote Restored after Prison

Colorado, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, & Utah

2 states: Unrestricted; May Vote from Prison

Maine & Vermont


Alabama

Some people 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.

Instructions for Voting Restoration, State of Alabama (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)


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.

Instructions for Voting Restoration, State of Arizona, (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)


California

On Sep. 28, 2016, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2466, a bill that allows convicted felons who are serving time in county jails (rather than state prison) the ability to vote from within jail.

Assembly Bill No. 2466 (accessed Oct. 4, 2016)


Colorado

On July 1, 2019, a law went into effect that reenfranchises people convicted of felonies who have been released from prison, but who are serving parole.

Source:
Alex Burness, “As of Today, 11,467 Colorado Parolees Can Register to Vote. Will They?,” coloradoindependent.com, July 2019


Delaware

On Apr. 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. People convicted of a felony (with some exceptions) are now automatically eligible to vote after serving their full sentence including incarceration, parole, and probation.

Exceptions: People 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.

Hazel D. Plant Voter Restoration Act (accessed Apr. 16, 2013)
Delaware Constitution: Article V Section 2 (accessed Feb. 12, 2014)


Florida

On Nov. 6, 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 (64% in favor – 36% opposed), allowing people with prior felony convictions (other than murder and sex offenses) to automatically regain their ability to vote once they have served their terms of incarceration and completed all parole and probation. On June 28, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed bill SB 7066 that requires former felons to pay all restitution, court fees, and fines before they can regain the right to vote.

The law has since undergone several rounds of court challenges. The US Supreme Court ruled on July 16, 2020, that the law requiring payment of fines prior to restoration of voting rights can be enforced by the state of Florida. On Sep. 11, 2020, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Florida law requiring payment, stating, “Florida withholds the franchise from any felon, regardless of wealth, who has failed to complete any term of his criminal sentence—financial or otherwise.”

Sources:
The Washington Post, “Florida Passes Amendment to Restore Felons’ Voting Rights,” washingtonpost.com, Nov. 7, 2018
Brooke Seipel, “Florida Gov Signs Law Requiring Felons to Pay Off Fines before They Can Vote,” thehill.com, June 28, 2019
Tal Axelrod, “Florida Supreme Court Rules Convicted Felons Must Pay Fines, Fees before Voting,” thehill.com, Jan. 16, 2020
Tal Axelrod, “Court Sides with Ex-Felons Who Challenged Florida Voting Requirement,” the hill.com, Feb. 19, 2020

Lori Rozsa, “Federal Judge Expands Voting Decisions to Apply to All Ex-Felons in Florida,” washingtonpost.com, Apr. 7, 2020
Corey Goldstone, “Ruling at Upcoming Trial Will Apply to Hundreds of Thousands of Floridians Seeking Voting Rights Restoration,” campaignlegal.org, Apr. 7, 2020
Lawrence Mower, “Appeals Court Halts Florida Felons from Registering to Vote, Pending further Review,” miamiherald.com, July 1, 2020
Dan Berman, “Supreme Court Says Florida Can Enforce Law Limiting Felons Who Owe Fines from Voting,” cnn.com, July 16, 2020
J. Edward Moreno, “Court Upholds Florida Law Requiring Felons to Pay Fines, Fees before They Can Vote,” thehill.com, Sep. 11, 2020

According to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition website (accessed Nov. 7, 2018), “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.

On Aug. 5, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed an executive order automatically restoring the vote to former felons who have completed their sentences. People convicted of felony homicide will still have to apply for reenfranchisement.

Executive Order 70 – Signed Jan. 14, 2011, Terry Branstad, Governor (R)
Executive Order 42 – Signed July 4, 2005, Thomas J. Vilsack, JD, Governor (D)
Iowa Streamlined Application for Restoration of Citizenship Rights (accessed Oct. 20, 2017)
Veronica Stracqualursi, “Iowa Governor Signs Executive Order Restoring Some Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights,” cnn.com, Aug. 5, 2020


Kentucky

On Nov. 24, 2015, Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear issued executive order 2015-871 to automatically restore the right to vote to nonviolent felons who have completed probation, parole, and who have no outstanding court-ordered restitution payments. On Dec. 22, 2015, newly elected Gov. Matthew G. Bevin issued executive order 2015-052, rescinding the previous Governor’s executive order. On Dec. 12, 2019, on his third day in office, newly elected Gov. Andy Beshear (son of former governor Steven Beshear) signed an executive order restoring the vote to 140,000 people who had completed their sentences for nonviolent felonies.

Those convicted of violent felonies did not have their votes restored, leaving Kentucky categorized as a state in which people may permanently lose their votes.

Executive Order 2019-033 – Signed Dec. 12, 2019, Andy Beshear, Governor (D)
Executive Order 2015-052 – Signed Dec. 22, 2015, Matthew G. Bevin, Governor (R)
Executive Order 2015-871 – Signed Nov. 24, 2015, Steven L. Beshear, Governor (D)
Kentucky Application for Restoration of Civil Rights (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)


Louisiana

On May 31, 2018, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 265 into law. Once the law goes into effect on Mar. 1, 2019, all people who have been convicted of a felony in Louisiana, and who have not been incarcerated in prison during the previous five years, will be allowed to register to vote, even if they are still serving a term of probation or parole.

House Bill 265 – Signed May 31, 2018, John Bel Edwards, Governor (D)


Maryland

On Feb. 9, 2016, the Maryland General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of SB 340 and restored the vote to all convicted felons immediately upon their release from prison. Previously, convicted felons in Maryland had to complete all parole and probation before they were able to vote.

Senate Bill 340 (accessed Feb. 9, 2016)


Mississippi

People convicted of a felony are barred from voting only if they have been convicted of one or more of the following specific felony crimes: “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.

Mississippi Constitution: Article 12, Section 241 (accessed June 8, 2012)
Mississippi Constitution: Article 12, Section 253 (accessed June 8, 2012)


Nebraska

People 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.

Felon Voting Rights FAQ (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)


Nevada

On May 30, 2019, Nevada’s governor signed Assembly Bill 431, which allowed for the automatic restoration of voting privileges to all people upon release from prison.

Nevada Assembly Bill 431 (accessed May 30, 2019)


New Jersey

On. Dec. 18, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation to restore voting rights to those who are on probation or parole after completing prison sentences. The law will take effect in Mar. 2020. Previously, voting was allowed only after completion of probation or parole.

Source:
Reid Wilson, “New Jersey Governor Signs Voting Rights Restoration Bill, “thehill.com, Dec. 18, 2019


New York

On Apr. 18, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 181 to restore the right to vote to parolees, dependent upon review of records by the Governor’s Office. The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will submit records for individuals released from prison in the prior month beginning on May 1, 2018 for review. Previously, voting was allowed only after completion of parole.

Executive Order No. 181, Signed Apr. 18, 2018, Andrew M. Cuomo, JD, Governor (D)


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 people 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.

South Dakota: HB 1247 (accessed June 8, 2012)


Tennessee

All people 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.

People convicted of a felony between Jan. 15, 1973, and May 17, 1981, are eligible to register to vote regardless of the crime committed. People convicted of certain felonies prior to Jan. 15, 1973 may be barred from voting.

Tennessee Restoration of Voting Rights (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)


Virginia

On Apr. 18, 2014 Governor Terry McAuliffe announced changes to Virginia’s restoration of rights process. Under the new rules, people convicted of non-violent felonies (including drug crimes) will have their ability to vote automatically restored providing that they:

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.

On June 23, 2015 Governor McAuliffe announced that “outstanding court costs and fees will no longer prohibit an individual from having his or her rights restored.”

On Apr. 22, 2016, Governor McAuliffe signed an order restoring the vote to all 200,000+ felons in Virginia, regardless of their charge, who had completed their term of incarceration and their term of probation or parole. The New York Times reports (Apr. 22, 2016, “Virginia Governor Restores Voting Rights to Felons”) that the governor’s action will not apply to felons released in the future, although the Governor’s aides say he plans “to issue similar orders on a monthly basis to cover people as they are released.”

On July 22, 2016 the Virginia Supreme Court overturned Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s blanket restoration of voting rights for over 200,000 convicted felons. In a press release the Governor stated that he “will expeditiously sign nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights of the citizens who have had their rights restored and registered to vote. And I will continue to sign orders until I have completed restoration for all 200,000 Virginians.”

According to an email from the Virginia Department of Elections that was provided to ProCon.org on Mar. 28, 2018, “Virginia applies the restoration policy of the state the conviction was handed down.” So, for instance, if a person was convicted in an automatic restoration state such as California, and then moved to Virginia, that individual would be eligible to register to vote in Virginia.

Governor McAuliffe’s Statement on the Virginia Supreme Court Decision (accessed July 26, 2016)
Governor McAuliffe Restores Voting and Civil Rights to Over 200,000 Virginians (accessed Apr. 22, 2016)
Governor McAuliffe Announces New Reforms to Restoration of Rights Process (accessed July 2, 2015)
Governor McAuliffe’s Letter Outlining His Policy Changes (accessed Apr. 21, 2014)


Washington

All people 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 “your voting rights can be revoked if the sentencing court determines that you have failed to comply with the terms of your legal financial obligations.”

Felons and Voting Rights (accessed Oct. 20, 2017)


Wyoming

Effective July 1, 2017, W.S. §7-13-105 allows individuals convicted, that are first time nonviolent felons, to automatically have their right to vote restored if they completed their supervision or were discharged from an institution on or after January 1, 2010. Individuals who completed their sentence prior to January 1, 2010, are required to apply for restoration of the right to vote.” All others convicted of a felony must be pardoned or have their rights restored by the governor.

Wyoming Restoration of Voting Rights (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)
Wyoming Restoration of Voting Rights Application (accessed Oct. 24, 2017)