Getting Your Voting Rights Back

Voting is a sacred right for most citizens, and many people may not realize that they can lose this privilege. In most states, being convicted of a felony will cause your voting rights to be revoked. Although the laws vary from state to state, you can take action to try and get your right to vote reinstated. You will need to follow the correct procedure and get the legal help that you need.

State Variations

The federal government does not regulate voting rights, so the states impose their own regulations. Two states, Maine and Vermont, pose no restrictions and actually let prisoners vote from jail. This position is the most lenient one in the system. Others may choose to revoke your voting rights permanently. Some states will restore your rights after you have completed your jail term, parole, and/or probation. You can petition the state to have your rights restored, however, no matter what their stated policy. Exceptions do exist.

Process

The process is different throughout the nation, but Kentucky requires that your prison or jail sentence and parole have “expired.” You must also have paid all fines and have no pending charges against you. You then have to complete an application, have it notarized, and sent to the Department of Corrections. They will then decide whether or not to restore your vote.

Arizona requires that you request the Restoration of Civil Liberties, which can lead to your being able to vote, serve on a jury, and hold public office. This process is not necessary after one felony because a person’s rights are automatically restored in that instance after being discharged by the Department of Corrections. Two or more felonies require official restoration of your rights.

Trend

Recently, there has been more discussion about relaxing these rules so that more people can vote. This policy move is in line with the general concern over voting rights in the United States. In fact, the Governor of Virginia restored the voting rights of 200,000 felons. His action was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court. Still, the issue is being reconsidered in some areas.

If you have lost your voting rights due to a felony conviction and are having difficulty getting them restored, consult with a criminal law attorney. Once you’ve put your sentence behind you, you should be able to fully regain your place in society. If you’ve lost your right to vote, fight to get it back.