Felon Disenfranchisement

felon disenfranchisment

State approaches to felon disenfranchisement vary tremendously. In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated. In Florida, Iowa and Virginia, felons and ex-felons permanently lose their right to vote. Virginia and Florida have supplementary programs which facilitate gubernatorial pardons. The remaining states each have their own approaches to the issue.
NCSL – Felon Voting Rights

  • In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence.
  • In some states, ex-felons must wait for a certain period of time after the completion of their sentence before rights can be restored.
  • In some states, an ex-felon must apply to have voting rights restored.

 

Problem:
Inmates are counted in the U.S. census which is used for redistricting, yet when they are released from prison they are denied the right to vote. We believe that once you have finished your prison sentence you have paid your debt to society and must be allowed to register to vote the day you released.

Solutions:

  • Amend the Texas constitution to allow felons to vote upon immediate completion of their time in prison (similar to 14 states)
  • Amend the Texas constitution to allow felons to vote upon completion of prison and parole (similar to 4 states)
  • Amend the Texas constitution to allow prisoners to vote (similar to Maine and Vermont)

 

Texas Constitution
Code – Election Code
Chapter 11 – Qualification and Requirements for Voting
Section 11.002 – Qualified Voter

 

Texas Tribune – Texas Inmates Don’t Vote, but They Sometimes Count

Mother Jones – California Just Restored Voting Rights to 60,000 Ex-Felons

The Guardian – Which countries let prisoners vote? Interactive map

The Guardian – Prison gerrymandering: incarceration weakens vulnerable voting communities

The Atlantic – How Prisons Change the Balance of Power in America

Telegraph – Jeremy Corbyn: Let prisoners have the right to vote

Think Progress – Thanks To Virginia Reforms, These People Are Voting For The First Time In Decades

Think Progress – How To Register Voters In A South Carolina Jail

Brennan Center for Justice – U.S. Census and Incarceration

NPR – Urban, Rural Areas Battle For Census Prison Populace

Pew Research Center – Counting Prisoners in the 2010 Census

DEMOS – The Census Count and Prisoners: The Problem, The Solutions and What the Census Can Do

Prison Policy Initiative – Prison Populations and the Census – FAQ

Politico – Why Prisoners Deserve the Right to Vote

US Census – So, How do You Handle Prisons?

Minnesota Post – Census issue: when, where — and for what purpose — to count inmates

New York Times – New Option for the States on Inmates in the Census