Can You Vote if You Have a Criminal Record?
While transitioning back into society and rebuilding a productive life, many people wonder “can I vote as a formerly incarcerated person?” with an assumption that the current laws have restricted their rights. Fortunately, many states restore the right to vote after the individual has completed their sentence and/or probation requirements. Up to 18 million formerly incarcerated Americans can vote right now. Most are just unaware because felony disenfranchisement laws in every state can be confusing.
At Paroled2Pride, we are constantly emphasizing the importance of exercising your right to vote - even after incarceration. Many formerly incarcerated people are not educated on their voting rights and will withdraw from using their voice due to feeling unwelcome in their community. Our goal is to let them know that their voices have just as much power as their neighbors, and that they are capable of advocating for positive change.
The right to vote is the foundation of our American democracy. Everyone is given the right to cast their votes, so their voice is heard and their opinions are to be taken into consideration. Formerly incarcerated people deserve to be included among those voices. Just as we society expects them to rebuild productive lives after being released from incarceration, society must also allow them to be included in political decisions that include returning citizens and their families. If you are ready to vote after transitioning back into your community, you can register in your area. Sometimes there may be additional steps before depending on your state, but you can always reach out to your local reentry program for assistance and get your voice heard!