Immediate Steps To Take To Regain Your Voting Rights

12 September 2016
 Categories: Law, Blog


If you have been released from prison after completing a sentence for a felony conviction, you have a lot of catching up to do. One of the most important steps is to regain your right to vote. In most states and cases, you do get to vote again, but when and how differ widely. Upon release, you should have been given information about how to take care of this, but if for some reason you didn't get any instructions, read on.

Check State Law First

Because each state has a different timeline and process—some restore the right automatically, some require an application, some restore right when you get out of prison, and others restore when you complete parole—verify your state's law first. If you've been released from prison and are on parole, and your state doesn't allow parolees to vote, that's the end of the story right there, at least until you complete parole.

Contact Your State's Parole Board

If you find you're eligible but need to apply, contact your parole board, even if you've finished parole. They should be able to help you with the process or tell you who to contact next. If you're in a state where you are automatically supposed to get your rights back, you may still want to verify with the board whether you have to do anything other than re-register to vote.

Contact Your County's Registrar of Voters

Once you've applied, or if you find you are automatically eligible, contact your county's registrar of voters. They can let you know if they need to receive any paperwork or files from the parole board, and they can also help you re-register. Remember that in a lot of states, you need to purposefully re-register your name because the computer systems there won't simply hold your voter registration from before you were in prison. If there are any snags—lost paperwork or the computer system won't let you register—you may need to go back to the parole board to clear things up.

If you are still having trouble registering, and the voter registrar and the parole board have you running back and forth, talk to a criminal lawyer who has experience tracking down the snags and getting people re-registered. Once you have completed your sentence and fulfilled your state's requirements for being eligible again, you have the right to register to vote. Don't assume that you're out of luck if you hit glitches during the process.

For more information, contact a service like Florida Judicial Comprehensive Services.