Last updated on: 5/26/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

State Felon Voting Laws

 

Click on each state to view its rules on felon disenfranchisement. Applications for re-enfranchisement and clemency have been provided for the states that require them. While nine states have laws that may permanently disenfranchise people convicted of certain felonies, as of Dec. 12, 2019, Iowa is the only state that has a total ban on voting by former felons.

(9 States)

May Lose Vote
Permanently
(19 States)

Vote Restored After Prison,
Parole, & Probation
(2 States)

Vote Restored
After Prison & Parole
(18 States & DC)
Vote Restored
After Prison
(2 States)

May Vote from Prison
AlabamaX (notes)
AlaskaX
ArizonaX (notes)
ArkansasX
CaliforniaX (notes)
ColoradoX (notes)
ConnecticutX
District of ColumbiaX
DelawareX (notes)
FloridaX (notes)
GeorgiaX
HawaiiX
IdahoX
IllinoisX
IndianaX
IowaX (notes)
KansasX
KentuckyX (notes)
LouisianaX (notes)
MaineX
MarylandX-(notes)
MassachusettsX
MichiganX
MinnesotaX
MississippiX (notes)
(9 States)

May Lose Vote
Permanently
(19 States)

Vote Restored After Prison,
Parole, & Probation
(2 States)

Vote Restored
After Prison & Parole
(18 States & DC)
Vote Restored
After Prison
(2 States)

May Vote from Prison
MissouriX
MontanaX
NebraskaX (notes)
NevadaX (notes)
New HampshireX
New JerseyX (notes)
New MexicoX
New YorkX (notes)
North CarolinaX
North DakotaX
OhioX
OklahomaX
OregonX
PennsylvaniaX
Rhode IslandX
South CarolinaX
South DakotaX (notes)
TennesseeX (notes)
TexasX
UtahX
VermontX
VirginiaX (notes)
WashingtonX (notes)
West VirginiaX
WisconsinX
WyomingX (notes)
(9 States)

May Lose Vote
Permanently
(19 States)

Vote Restored After Prison,
Parole, & Probation
(2 States)

Vote Restored
After Prison & Parole
(18 States & DC)
Vote Restored
After Prison
(2 States)

May Vote from Prison
  • 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 a bill (SB 7066) that required former felons to pay all restitution, court fees, and fines before they could regain the right to vote. The law has since undergone challenges in court and a federal trial for the case Jones v. DeSantis began on Apr. 27, 2020.

    [Editor’s Note: On May 6, 2020, we removed the following sentence from this section because it was unclear: “However, on Apr. 7, 2020, US District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that former felons are allowed to vote, even if they owe fines and fees.”

    Judge Hinkle issued an injunction in the case then later said on Apr. 7 that his eventual ruling would apply more broadly than just to the original plaintiffs in the case; the case was not settled at this time as we inaccurately implied. Campaign Legal Center, which represents some individual plaintiffs in the case, said the Apr. 7, 2020 order “confirmed that any decision he issues in Florida’s rights restoration case, Jones v. DeSantis, would apply to all Floridians who would otherwise be eligible for rights restoration, but for their ability to pay off their fines and fees.”

    We also removed references to other court rulings in 2020 for the sake of clarity.]

    On May 24, 2020, Judge Hinkle ruled “that the State [of Florida] can condition voting on payment of fines and restitution that a person is able to pay but cannot condition voting on payment of amounts a person is unable to pay.”

    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


    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.

    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 Resotration of Citizenship Rights (accessed Oct. 20, 2017) 

  • 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.

    More information about restoration of voting rights in Virginia is available at: restore.virginia.gov

    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)