One of the core beliefs of our country is that everyone has a right to vote. But what about the people who break our nation’s laws? Does committing a crime nullify their right to vote? Well that depends on what state you live in. For example, if you committed a felony in Alabama, you could permanently lose your right to vote, whereas if you committed the crime in Maine, you could vote absentee from prison. A very interesting website, Procon.org, has compiled a table of all of the states and their felon voting laws.
Another curious thing to note is not just how much voting restrictions change from state to state, but the level of the felonies. It’s one of the few times where the consequences of drug possession carry the same weight as murdering someone. Other crimes you can commit to lose voting rights include distributing pornography (Alabama), timber larceny (Mississippi), and arson (Florida). News21 points out a flaw in this system, as it seems to be part of a policy that singles out minorities.
“Across the country, racial minorities are more likely to be barred from voting because of felony convictions, reform advocates say. Blacks made up 12.6 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, but 37.9 percent of the more than 1.5 million people in federal and state prisons, according to data from the Census and the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.”
It’s estimated that these restrictions keep 5.85 million Americans off voting rolls. Whether good or bad, that’s a significant number in a country that prides itself on freedom. Below, you’ll find a table with each state and their policy.
|District of Columbia||X|
Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote absentee from prison.