With today being Election Day here in the States I thought it might be interesting to take a look at one of the largest populations who presently don’t meet the criteria in order to cast their ballots. That population includes former and current residents of the penal system who have been found guilty of a felony offense. According to something called the Sentencing Project that number is about 5.3 million Americans or approximately 2.4% of the general voting public,
Each state has their own rules when it comes to the matter of prisoner voting. Here’s a breakdown of each state and their eligibility status.
If you’re currently incarcerated, on parole or on probation for your felony offense chances are you will most likely lose your right to vote permanently if you live in the following states. Note: Many of these states have lengthy and complicated appeals processes that are often expensive and may require the governor of the state to grant clemency. This further discourages former prisoners from seeking to have their voting privileges reinstated.
If you’re currently incarcerated, on parole or on probation for your felony offense chances are you will not be able to vote until you are released and have completed all the terms of your supervised release for the following states.
If you’re currently incarcerated or on parole for a felony conviction in the following states you will not be able to vote. Once the terms of your parole have been completed your voting rights are restored.California
If you’re currently incarcerated on a felony conviction and live in the following states you will not be able to vote. Once you get out of prison your voting rights will be restored.
District of Columbia
If you find yourself sitting behind bars on a felony conviction and you live in either Maine or Vermont, consider yourselves lucky. Those two are the only states that allow prisoners to vote.
Look, a lot can be made of the demographics. If you notice that the states with the most stringent prisoner voting rights are predominately below the Mason-Dixon Line you might have an argument that they’re deliberately trying to disenfranchise the poor or people of color since they make up the majority of the prison population. On the other side of the coin, you might argue that these people are scumbags and the crimes they committed were of such a severe nature that they should no longer have a say about what goes on in a civil society.
It’s your call. I report, you decide.
As always, folks from countries other than the United States are encouraged to contribute their own experiences when it comes to the issue of prisoner voting rights