Inmate Voting Rights: Can I Vote After Being Convicted of a Misdemeanor Offense?

In most states, once you are released from jail for your misdemeanor conviction your voting rights are fully restored. In some cases, you are still allowed to vote even while incarcerated.

In the states of Idaho, Kentucky, Indiana, South Carolina, Michigan, South Dakota and Missouri, if you are in jail or prison due to a misdemeanor charge of conviction, you will lose your right to vote as long as you are incarcerated.

In Kentucky and Missouri, if your conviction as for election-based crimes, you must receive a pardon from the state governor before your voting rights can be restored. Kentucky also permanently bans those convicted of high misdemeanors (the most serious misdemeanors) from voting.

West Virginia allows all those convicted of misdemeanors to vote while in jail except those who are convicted of election-related crimes. Those eligible to vote receive absentee ballots.

Inmates in the remaining 40 states are in theory allowed to continue voting while they are incarcerated. Individual jails are supposed to provide absentee ballots for those inmates interested in casting votes in their statewide, local and federal elections.

The District of Columbia prohibits inmates who have been convicted of campaign-related, lobbying-based or other election crimes from voting until after they have been released from jail.

Final thoughts: If you are incarcerated in a state that allows you to vote, ask how the jail handles the process and request your absentee ballot.

You may be interested in: President Lyndon Johnson speech on voting rights

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.