Voting is a matter of state law. Even federal elections are governed by the laws in force in each of the individual states. Each state determines under what circumstances a convicted felon can or cannot vote. These laws vary rather significantly from one state to another.
Two states impose no restrictions whatsoever on voting by convicted felons. Maine and Vermont permit felons to vote, even if they are imprisoned. In other words, even upon a felony conviction, the voting rights of residents of these two New England states remain in full force.
Released From Incarceration
The District of Columbia and 11 states permit felons to vote once they are released from a term of incarceration. Additionally, felons on probation can vote in these jurisdictions. The states that permit felons to vote under these circumstances are:
Hawaii Illinois Indiana Massachusetts Michigan Montana New Hampshire North Dakota Ohio Pennsylvania Rhode Island
Five states in the U.S. allow felons on probation, but not on parole or incarcerated, to vote. These states are:
California Colorado Connecticut New York South Dakota
Fully Complete Sentence
The most common type of law regarding felon voting exists in 20 states. Under this version of the law, a felon automatically obtains a restoration of voting rights when his or her entire sentence is completed. This means the convicted felon is no longer incarcerated, or on parole, probation, or supervised release. These states are:
Alaska Arkansas Georgia Idaho Iowa Kansas Louisiana Maryland Minnesota Missouri Nebraska New Jersey New Mexico North Carolina Oklahoma South Carolina Texas Washington West Virginia Wisconsin
Application for Restoration of Rights
Eight states require convicted felons to apply for a restoration of their voting rights once they completely satisfy their sentences. Felons must complete their term of incarceration, probation, parole, or supervised release before they make application for a restoration of voting privileges. These states are:
Alabama Arizona Delaware Florida Mississippi Nevada Tennessee Wyoming
No Restoration Permitted
Kentucky and Virginia prohibit convicted felons from ever voting.
Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.