Who Can Vote According to the State

Many people have heard of disenfranchisement but they are not sure what it means. To disenfranchise means to deprive a person of their right to vote and sometimes of other rights they have as citizens as well. Laws and rules that concern disenfranchisement are different from one state to another, so depending in which state you live, the rules that apply to you may be different.

Recent studies show that one in 41 adults in America have permanently or currently lost their right to vote. As a result of felony convictions almost 700, 000 women are unable to vote. Also, 2.1 disenfranchised people in the U.S. are former convicts that have completed their sentences. The impact on civil society is very big in such cases.

For instance 48 states plus the District of Columbia do not allow inmates to vote while they are incarcerated for felony offenses. Maine and Vermont, however allow inmates to vote. A total of 35 states in the U.S. prohibit felons from voting during the time that they are on parole, while 30 states prohibit felony probationers to vote too.

In 2002 Kansas added probationers to the category of excluded felons, while in other states legislatures passed laws to extend the right to vote to some of the ex convicts. In Alabama and Connecticut most felons that have completed their sentence can apply for a certificate of eligibility to regain their right to vote. At the same time, in year 2000 the voters of Massachusetts voted to deprive people incarcerated for felony of their right to vote.

In many states, most offenders have to wait for 5 or even 7 years to have their voting rights restored. While each state has developed a different process of restoring the right to vote to ex-offenders, in most states the process is so complicated and restrictive that very few ex-convicts actually get to ever vote again.

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