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Out of Step: U.S. Policy on Voting Rights in Global Perspective

The United States is out of step with the rest of the world in disenfranchising large numbers of citizens based on criminal convictions.

Related to: Voting Rights, Collateral Consequences

Executive Summary

The United States is an outlier nation in that it strips voting rights from millions of citizens1 solely on the basis of a criminal conviction.2 As of 2022, over 4.4 million people in the United States were disenfranchised due to a felony conviction.3 This is due in part to over 50 years of U.S. mass incarceration, wherein the U.S. incarcerated population increased from about 360,000 people in the early 1970s to nearly 2 million in 2022.4 While many U.S. states have scaled back their disenfranchisement provisions, a trend that has accelerated since 2017, the United States still lags behind most of the world in protecting the right to vote for people with criminal convictions.5

The right to vote is a cornerstone of democratic, representative government that reflects the will of the people. The international consensus on the importance of this right is demonstrated in part by the fact that it is protected in international human rights law. A majority of the world’s nations either do not deny people the right to vote due to criminal convictions or deny the right only in relatively narrow and rare circumstances.

This report highlights key findings since 2006:

  • The United States remains out of step with the rest of the world in disenfranchising large numbers of people based on criminal convictions. In part, this is due to a punitive criminal legal system resulting in one of the world’s highest incarceration rates. As noted above, the country has disenfranchised, due to a felony conviction, over 4.4 million people who would otherwise be legally eligible to vote. This is also due to the laws in many US states that provide for broad disenfranchisement based on convictions. For this report we examined the laws of the 136 countries around the world with populations of 1.5 million and above, and found the majority—73 of the 136—never or rarely deny a person’s right to vote because of a conviction. We also found that, even when it comes to the other 63 countries, where laws deny the right in broader sets of circumstances, the US is toward the restrictive end of the spectrum and disenfranchises, largely through US state law, a wider swath of people on the whole.
  • The United States continues to disenfranchise a wider swath of its citizens based on a felony conviction than most other countries, many U.S. jurisdictions have worked to expand voting rights to persons with criminal convictions since 2006.
    Reforms in some jurisdictions within the United States and other countries have limited the loss of voting rights due to a criminal conviction. Among other types of reforms, most U.S. states no longer disenfranchise individuals permanently for life and many no longer disenfranchise individuals upon release from incarceration. These reforms have occurred through a combination of legislative change, amendments to state constitutions, court victories, and executive action. In some cases, however, as in Florida, expansion of rights restoration has been met with subsequent retrenchment.
  • The trend toward greater enfranchisement of people with prior criminal legal justice system involvement is global: outside of the United States, countries have also expanded rights restoration efforts. For example, in 2014 Egypt repealed a sweeping law imposing a ban on voting, without time limits, on every person convicted of an offense from voting without time limits. Tanzania’s High Court found a law that disenfranchised persons sentenced to imprisonment exceeding six months to be unconstitutional because it was too general and inconsistent with the country’s Constitution.
  • Voters with criminal conviction histories in the United States experience practical obstacles to electoral participation. For example, changes in state law have resulted in voter confusion among people with criminal conviction histories and prosecution of individuals for good faith efforts at voting. And some states require criminal legal system-impacted citizens to provide documentation in order to register to vote, which may be burdensome to collect. But other localities within the United States and other countries have removed these barriers and improved justice-impacted voter participation.
  • Officials within the United States and other countries have worked to address logistical barriers to the ballot. Within the United States, several localities – including Cook County (Chicago, Illinois), Harris County (Houston, Texas), and the District of Columbia – have established polling stations in local correctional facilities. Several nations have worked to address barriers to voting for persons in correctional facilities. For example, officials in several countries including Chile, Croatia, Greece, and the Netherlands allow or have plans to install polling stations in prisons to guarantee ballot access.

In sum: US laws denying the vote to persons with criminal convictions are extreme when compared with the laws of other countries.

Readers are encouraged to remain mindful of the overtly racist historical context for disenfranchisement laws in the United States, including chattel slavery and its legacies, as we imagine a path towards greater civic participation for all.

Introduction: U.S. Policy and Global Law and Practice on Disenfranchisement

The United States is more extreme than other nations in its continued denial of voting rights to citizens due to criminal convictions, despite some reforms. The United States is a world leader in its scale of imprisonment and imposes restrictions on voting rights on a substantial number of citizens impacted by the criminal legal system. The United States currently bans over 4.4 million citizens from voting due to felony convictions – a staggering figure that outpaces the rest of the world.6 In many cases in the United States, disenfranchisement results automatically from a conviction.7 Worse yet, for many people in the United States, the loss of the right to vote is mandatory and permanent, which belies the claim that US democracy represents the “will of the people.”8

A felony conviction in the United States often involves a prison sentence ranging from one year to life, life without parole (a sentence to die in prison), or the death penalty. People on average serve about 12 years in prison for federal felonies9 and 5 years on average for state felonies.10 People convicted of misdemeanors are most often detained in jails alongside people who are accused, but not convicted, of crimes. In the US, felonies include several types of unlawful conduct, including most frequently: drugs or public order offenses (weapons, tax, immigration offenses) at the federal level;11 and at the state level violent offenses (e.g. robbery, murder, rape), property offenses (e.g. burglary), or drug offenses.12 There are both state and federal crimes in the United States as well as local, state and federal elections; voters are often prevented from participating in federal elections due to state level convictions and vice-versa.

Felony disenfranchisement policies can be traced back to the time of the founding of the United States, having been carried over from the colonial period.13 The widespread denial of voting rights and its link to mass incarceration is grounded in the use of felony disenfranchisement laws that helped animate the racial caste system in the United States.14 Two interconnected trends – expansion of criminal laws targeting Black residents15 and the disenfranchisement of citizens with felony convictions16 – emerged during this time to lay the foundation for the mass disenfranchisement that we see in the United States today.

Many felony disenfranchisement laws date back to the Post-Reconstruction era following the end of the Civil War. During this period, Black people witnessed both the expansion and the restriction of their rights as full citizens. State lawmakers, particularly in the South, implemented criminal laws designed to target Black male citizens and criminalize Black life through “Black Codes.” Many states simultaneously expanded the number of crimes classified as a felony and enacted disenfranchisement laws that revoked voting rights for any felony conviction.17 For example, in Mississippi, voting restrictions were adopted based on prevailing perceptions of crimes believed more likely to be committed by Black men, such as burglary, arson, and theft.18

Further policies were enacted to restrict Black citizenship; many states enacted literacy tests and poll taxes as a means to limit the access of Black men to the ballot.19 Although the federal government officially barred some Jim Crow-era tactics in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, felony disenfranchisement laws remain in 48 states.20 Felony disenfranchisement laws remain a serious structural barrier to social, political, and economic justice for communities of color.21

Today, the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws on Black communities remains clear. In large part, this disparate impact of felony disenfranchisement results from disproportionate rates of felony arrests and convictions among Black Americans and other communities of color.22 Much of this effect reflects disparate law enforcement practices regarding drug offenses, with Black Americans being arrested for both drug possession and sale offenses at considerably higher rates than their proportion of drug use.23 While disenfranchisement policies disproportionately affect people of color, this is even more pronounced for incarcerated people.

The impact on the Black electorate is significant. One in 19 Black Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate 3.5 times that of people who are not Black.24 5.3 percent of Black adults in the United States are disenfranchised, compared to 1.5 percent of the adult population that is not Black.24 More than one in 10 Black adults is disenfranchised in seven states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia according to estimates by The Sentencing Project.24 Although data on ethnicity in correctional populations are unevenly reported and undercounted in some states, a conservative estimate is that at least 506,000 Latinx Americans or 1.7 percent of the voting-eligible population are disenfranchised.27 In some states, like Florida, children (people below the age of 18) can be convicted of felonies under state law, and thereby deprived of the right to vote, in some cases permanently, before they even have had their first opportunity to legally vote.28

The collateral impact of mass incarceration on people in the United States includes disenfranchisement along with barriers to housing, employment and other markers of full participation in U.S. civil society. Racial disparities within the criminal legal system severely burden Black Americans, as well as other voters of color – effectively depriving entire communities of their political and economic power by blocking their access to the ballot box.

Remaining Obstacles to Rights Restoration in the United States

Despite advances in legal eligibility to vote, substantial practical obstacles remain to voting access for returning citizens.

Voter confusion

Changes in state law regarding rights restoration has resulted in some voter confusion among returning citizens. Legal changes or advancements are not always stable over time. Gubernatorial executive orders have proven unstable; for example, Virginia, Iowa, and Kentucky have had governors issue conflicting executive orders over time, expanding rights and then rolling them back.116 Litigation victories can also prove illusory or volatile; advocates for rights restoration in Mississippi and North Carolina won court victories re-enfranchising some returning citizens for a time, but both victories were subsequently overturned or vacated on appeal.117 Even states that passed legislation or constitutional amendments—arguably the most stable form of legal change—have seen some retrenchment. In Florida, for instance, voters amended the state constitution to expand rights restoration, only to see the legislature significantly curtail those rights through subsequent legislation. These legal see-saws result not just in fewer rights for returning citizens, but confusion for voters trying to keep track of the fluctuating state of the law.

Due to this legal instability, and the fact that different states have vastly different laws for voting rights restoration, even election officials tend to be confused as to eligibility rules, which itself can exacerbate voter confusion. Frequently, corrections officers do not provide any information to returning citizens as to their voting rights upon release.118 Even election officials responsible for a state’s voting rights restoration process express confusion as to the mechanics of those processes.119 Post-release procedures for restoring one’s rights to vote can be complex and burdensome—and even in states that automatically restore voting rights, many are unaware of their eligibility after release.119 As one example, in Florida, it is often virtually impossible to know one’s voting eligibility,121 as the state doesn’t have a centralized system to look up what one owes in legal financial obligations122 and only extremely rarely issues individualized guidance to voters about their eligibility.123 Likewise, the lack of communication, information, and clarity on voting eligibility for returning citizens in Alabama has dampened the practical import of the policy improvements discussed previously in Section I.104

Paperwork & documentation requirements

Some states that have expanded rights restoration still require that returning citizens provide various forms of documentation in order to register to vote. For example, in Louisiana, these individuals must request a “Voter Rights Certificate” from the Division of Probation and Parole and present it in person, together with a paper Voter Registration Application, to the Registrar of Voters in order to register to vote.125 The Voter Rights Certificate attests that the individual has completed their parole or probation and has not been incarcerated within the last five years. Several formerly incarcerated people testified at a legislative hearing in 2023 about the confusion and barriers they have run into when trying to regain their voting rights, including this burdensome requirement.126 Louisiana could instead provide this information directly to the Registrar or allow citizens to present the certificate online or via mail.127

Compounding collateral consequences and depressed voter turnout

Criminal convictions often carry severe collateral consequences. While those consequences vary across jurisdictions, prior criminal convictions frequently saddle individuals with barriers to accessing employment, professional licensing, public assistance, housing, education, and financial aid.128 Those collateral consequences lower an individual’s income prospects and place returning citizens at especially high risk of entering or staying in poverty.129 Lower income and poverty are strongly associated with reduced political participation.130 In some jurisdictions, returning citizens are prevented from getting a driver’s license,128 another practical barrier to voting when presenting identification is required. Some states also bar returning citizens from other forms of civic participation—like serving on a jury or holding public office.132

These collateral consequences often dramatically increase returning citizens’ voting costs – the burdens these voters face as they attempt to exercise their right to vote – and thereby decrease their likelihood of casting a ballot.133

“Pay-to-vote” rights restoration systems

In many states, returning citizens become eligible to vote only upon payment of various legal financial obligations—fees, costs, fines, and/or restitution that courts have imposed on them.134 Those requirements keep returning citizens from voting when they can’t fully pay off those debts. This is common, particularly given that returning citizens are disproportionately likely to be indigent and suffer from aforementioned collateral consequences that make it harder for them to escape poverty. In Alabama, for example, about one-third of applications for rights restoration are denied due to court debts.135 Because of the racial wealth gap, and the racial disparities in criminal legal system impacts discussed in the introduction, these “pay-to-vote” schemes leave Black citizens especially likely to be disenfranchised.136

Fear of voting due to threat of criminal prosecution

States regularly prosecute voters for trying to vote when they don’t realize they aren’t eligible to do so due to a felony conviction. Alarmingly, this is happening with increasing frequency in many states such as Florida,137 Texas,138 Tennessee,138 North Carolina,140 Minnesota,141 and Georgia,142 among others. Typically, news reports show that these returning citizens made good-faith mistakes as to their voting eligibility—often due to the aforementioned, widespread voter confusion around rights restoration under state law—and were surprised to later face arrest for voting.143 Evidence also shows that these prosecutions for voting while ineligible tend to have a chilling effect on political participation, as even eligible voters in communities impacted become fearful of voting.144

Obstacles to voting in jails

Most individuals incarcerated in jails have not been convicted of crimes and remain eligible to vote.145 Some also face misdemeanor charges and are disenfranchised in certain states while completing their sentence.146 But practical barriers prevent these eligible voters from registering to vote or casting a ballot from jail. People in jails often do not know they retain their voting eligibility and aren’t given accurate information about their voting rights from either state officials or facility staff.147 And even where individuals realize they are eligible, they often have to overcome a myriad of logistical hurdles to register and cast a ballot: the lack of in-person voting opportunities in jails, learning and meeting the deadlines for registering and voting, requesting and submitting both a registration form and a ballot (often with mail delays and without phone or internet access), keeping their registration address current, and getting an ID where states require one to vote. Voters in jails also may have privacy concerns about staff handling and reviewing their mail.147 Some states have laws that make ballot return by most non-family members illegal, which would likely prevent jail staff from returning ballots on their behalf.149

As one example, in Delaware, evidence shows that not one single voter living in a jail voted in the November 2020 election.150 That happened in part because inaccurate information was posted around jails, staff weren’t trained on how to handle ballots, and individuals incarcerated in solitary confinement weren’t allowed to register.151 Similarly, in Connecticut, thousands of voters were disenfranchised in 2020 because they had no way to get and return their ballots. The absentee voting process required sending and receiving multiple mailings, which was difficult or impossible for many.152 Workable models exist for removing obstacles for eligible voters who are pretrial or completing misdemeanor sentences in local jails; for example, operating polling sites at jails or waiving absentee voting requirements specifically for incarcerated voters.153 Practitioners and advocates are working to implement ballot access practices in jurisdictions where eligible voters completing felony sentences in prison can participate in the franchise. In the District of Columbia, officials with the Board of Elections implemented practices as required by the DC Restore the Vote Act to guarantee ballot access for eligible voters completing felony sentences in prison or jail.154 In Puerto Rico, polling stations in prison facilities throughout the jurisdiction contributed to more than 6,100 persons voting in the 2016 presidential primary.155

A Spotlight on Impacted Individuals in the United States

It is pivotal to remember that at the heart of this conversation—about the legislative campaigns, the legal victories and defeats, the advances and retrenchments—are fellow citizens, neighbors, friends, and family. Below are stories of a few returning citizens who have been affected by recent changes in felony disenfranchisement policy.

Debbie Graner, Kentucky

Before 2019, some 300,000 Kentuckians could not vote due to a prior felony conviction. One of them was Debbie Graner. Though she completed probation in 2017, Debbie was still disenfranchised due to her felony conviction. Kentucky’s draconian law ensured that the state had the third highest disenfranchisement rate and the highest Black disenfranchisement rate in the nation.156 Governor Andy Beshear’s 2019 Executive Order, however, restored the right to vote for Debbie and an estimated 180,000 Kentuckians.53 When she voted for the first time in years in 2020, at the age of 69, Debbie felt a renewed sense of appreciation for the ballot box.158

Still, there was a problem. Although the 2019 order expanded voting rights, Kentucky did not have a formal mechanism for notifying people or helping them to get registered, leaving many unable to take advantage of their newfound eligibility. Noticing this gap, Debbie and the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) launched the Kentucky Democracy Project to help register voters who are unaware that their right to vote has been restored and to advocate for Kentuckians who are still being deprived of their right to vote.159 Debbie notes this mission is so important because “being able to vote is healing,” as it “[makes] you feel like a complete person and a member of society.”158 Debbie and her KFTC colleagues are also working to advocate for further progress for returning citizens in Kentucky: “most of us [with criminal histories], even though we have become law-abiding and productive citizens who pay taxes, still have difficulty finding suitable employment and adequate housing. Even though we often work to assist others, stay out of legal trouble or recover from addictions, [some of us] will never have our voting rights reinstated unless a state constitutional amendment is passed.”161

…being able to vote is healing,…you feel like a complete person and a member of society.”

Debbie Graner

Checo Yancy, Louisiana

Checo Yancy voted for the first time on September 29, 2019, at the age of 73 years old, nearly 40 years after he was disenfranchised when he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1983.162 In 1995, the Governor of Louisiana commuted his sentence to 75 years, and he was released on parole eight years later. During his 20 years of incarceration, Checo joined a prison ministry, volunteered for a hospice program, and taught fellow incarcerated persons how to read, among countless other undertakings.163 Borne out of the conditions he experienced during the 20 years he spent in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Checo developed a passion for advocacy and an interest in civic engagement. Checo and longtime friend Norris Henderson, who were both released from Angola in 2003, are founding members of Voice of the Experienced, a nonprofit organization that advocates for full civil rights restoration for formerly incarcerated people. “We actually started this organization inside of Angola almost 40 years ago,” Checo said, “and we wanted to get our family members and everybody involved in understanding that voting…is the way that you [change the law].”164

I vote because my vote is my power. My vote is my voice. When I vote, I’m voting for my children. I’m voting for my granddaughter. I vote because my voice matters.

Checo Yancy

Checo is also the policy director of Voters Organized to Educate, a non-profit specifically focused on building electoral power and mobilizing voters to effect change within Louisiana’s criminal legal system.165 Through this work, Checo played an active and pivotal role in getting the Louisiana State Legislature to pass a new rights restoration law in 2018, which granted voter eligibility to thousands of citizens.166 The law finally made Checo, who is still on parole for his 1983 conviction, eligible to vote. With his own rights now restored, Checo spends his days educating, mentoring, and advocating for the 1,000 people who are released from incarceration every month in Louisiana. After so many years, voting can now be a source of pride and a statement of self-determination for Checo: “I vote because my vote is my power. My vote is my voice. When I vote, I’m voting for my children. I’m voting for my granddaughter. I vote because my voice matters.”167

Jennifer Schroeder, Minnesota

Jennifer Schroeder was a 30-year-old new mother when she was sentenced to one year in prison and 40 years of probation for felony drug possession charges in 2014. Though a Minnesota court stayed her yearlong prison sentence, Jennifer’s bloated probationary sentence guaranteed that she would be ineligible to vote until 2053, at the age of 71.168 Feeling alienated from society and unsure of her future, Jennifer fought hard to reestablish her career after her conviction. She underwent substance use treatment, went back to school, and earned a degree from Minneapolis Community and Technical College, using her education and personal experience to become a counselor.168 In 2019, she became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU and ACLU of Minnesota challenging the state’s felony disenfranchisement policies.

By sharing her story in courtrooms, to legislators, and in the media, Jennifer set out to “represent [formerly incarcerated people] in a positive light, and to take down that stigma that keeps [them] feeling apart when [they] return to [their] communities.”170 As noted earlier in this report, Minnesota passed a new law in 2023 restoring voting rights upon release from confinement, and Jennifer was there to witness it. “Thanks to this law that changes today, the voices of those who have struggled will no longer be silenced,” Jennifer said at the bill-signing ceremony.171 “The moment we cast our ballot, we are taking part in something much bigger than ourselves … It’s especially important for people who have been incarcerated … Voting makes us feel like we belong, like we can actually reintegrate into society and have the power to shape our futures.”172 Now that Jennifer and an estimated 50,000 of her peers are eligible to vote, she has found a new avenue for her advocacy efforts: fighting for reforms that would cap probation sentences at five years, so that formerly incarcerated people like her can get their voting rights restored even in states that maintain disenfranchisement for those on supervised release. Empowered by her experience as a plaintiff and civil rights advocate, Jennifer is even considering going back to school to get her degree in political science so that she “can fight for change at the macro level.”172

The moment we cast our ballot, we are taking part in something much bigger than ourselves … It’s especially important for people who have been incarcerated … Voting makes us feel like we belong, like we can actually reintegrate into society and have the power to shape our futures.

Jennifer Schroeder

How the United States Compares to the Rest of the World

The sweeping nature of disenfranchisement in the United States is out of step with the rest of the world. For this report, we examined the laws and practices of 150 countries around the world with populations of 1.5 million and above.174 We determined that 14 of these countries have not commenced holding or do not ever hold national elections, are under military rule, or have no legal system allowing for voting rights in national elections.175 The remaining 136 countries vary widely in the health of their democratic systems and protections for related rights. For the purposes of this report, we did not analyze the political systems in these 136 countries beyond determining whether elections were conducted; we focused solely on legislative and constitutional provisions governing voting rights in connection with criminal convictions.176

Countries with few legal restrictions on voting for people with criminal convictions

As Table II below shows, the majority of the countries we examined—73 of the 136, or 54 percent—have laws that are far more protective than the United States of the voting rights of people with criminal convictions: 35 countries do not ever restrict voting rights based on criminal convictions, 21 very rarely limit the right to vote, and 17 restrict voting rights for a narrow set of crimes or for limited periods of time. A majority of the world’s countries do not disenfranchise their citizens nearly as often as most U.S. states.

Table II. Seventy-Three Countries that Do Not or Rarely Deny Voting Rights Due to Criminal Convictions

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Government of Canada. Sections 244-45, Canada Elections Act (S.C. 2000). Retrieved May 10, 2024.
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Government of Austria. Austrian Federal Law on National Council Elections, Part II, Section II, § 22; Austrian Special Part of the Criminal Code § 278a to § 278, Section 14-18, 24 or 25; Austrian National Socialism Prohibition Act 1947.
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Government of Benin. Benin Penal Code Art. 89.
Government of Finland. Electoral Law of Finland, Section 9.
German Electoral Code, Sections 13 and 45(5).; German Criminal Code §§ 92a, 101, 102(2), 108(c), 109(i).
Burundi’s Electoral Code, Article 9.
Constitution of Ghana, Article 42;. Supreme Court of Ghana. (2010). Centre for Human Rights & Civil Liberties v. Attorney-General and Electoral Commission, Civil Appeal No. JI/4/2008 & JI/5/2008).
Presidential Decree of Greece (2012); Government Gazette. (2021). Law 4084; European Parliament. (2024). “‘Prisoners’ Voting Rights in European Parliament Elections”.
Central African Republic, Article 5.
Constitution of Iceland, Article 33.; Elections Act of Iceland, Chapter II, Article 3; Elections Act of Iceland, Article 69.
Government of Indonesia. Indonesia Penal Code, Article 87.
Government of Chile. Constitution of Chile, Article 16(2);. (2020, September). “Sufragio de Personas Privadas de Libertad,” p. 7; Fernández, M.J. and Oberti, A. (2021)., “Voting in Prisons is a Right,” CiperHistoria De La Ley. (1980). Constitucion Politica de la Republica de Chile de 1980., p. 51; Constitution of Chile, Article 16(3); and “Código Electoral. (2009). Publicada en el Alcance 37 a La Gaceta n.° 171. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
Government of Iran. Law for the Elections of the Islamic Consultative Parliament, Iran, chapter 3, article 27; Human Rights Watch. (2021). World Report, Country Chapter: Iran. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
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Government of Egypt. Egypt, Law on the Regulation of the Exercise of Political Rights. Retrieved March 5, 2024.
Government of Ireland. Constitution of Ireland, Article 16; Electoral Amendment Act, 2006, Constitution of Ireland (2006). Retrieved May 14, 2024.
Government of Kosovo. Electoral Code of Kosovo, Article 5.; Electoral Rule of Kosovo (2009). Number 04/2008.
Government of France. Penal Code of France, Article 131- 26. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
Knesset Elections Law (Consolidated Version) (originally adopted in 1969), Chapter Two: General Provisions; Hartman, B. (2015). “Incarcerated people of the Election: Thousands of Inmates Line up to Vote at Facilities Across Israel,” The Jerusalem Post.
It is important to note that Israel denies the millions of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory living under its rule the right to vote for the authority that exercises primary control over their lives.
Government of Lesotho. Constitution of Lesotho, Article 51.7.; Lesotho National Assembly Electoral Act of 2011, Section 5(2).
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Government of Malawi. Constitution of Malawi, Article 77(3). Retrieved May 14, 2024.
Government of Latvia. Election Code of Latvia, Article 45.1. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
Government of Moldova. Electoral Code of Moldova, Articles 14 and 78(3)(b); BBC News. (2012). “Prisoner Votes by European Country,” Retrieved May 14, 2024.
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Government of Liberia. Constitution of Liberia. (1986). Liberia New Elections Law, Section 5.1. Retrieved May 14, 2024.
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Government of Portugal. (2007). Criminal Code of Portugal, Articles 246, 346. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
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Government of North Macedonia. North Macedonia Electoral Code, Article 113(1);. Balkan Insight. (2009). “Displaced, Incarcerated people Vote in Macedonia Poll,” Retrieved May 15, 2024; Inside Time. (2015). “Prisoner Voting in Europe,” Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Tunisia. (2022). Electoral Law of Tunisia (Decree No. 55 of 2022), Article 6; Government of Tunisia. (1913). Tunisia’s Criminal Code, Article 5, Article 62. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Pakistan. Constitution of Pakistan, Section 106. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Government of Pakistan. (2020). Pakistan Election Act, Section 93(d). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Uzbekistan. Electoral Code of Uzbekistan, Article 5. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Serbia. (2006). Constitution of Serbia, Article 52. Retrieved May 15, 2024; BBC News. (2022). “Prisoner Votes by European Country”. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission). (2020). “Report on Electoral Law and Electoral Administration in Europe,” para. 66. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
European Parliament. (2024). “Prisoners’ voting rights in European Parliament elections.” Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of South Africa. The Constitution of South Africa, Section 19(3)(a). Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Constitutional Court of South Africa. (2004). Minister of Home Affairs v. National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Re-Integration of Offenders (NICRO) and Others, para. 80. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Spain. (1985). General Electoral Law of Spain, Organic Law 5/1985, Third Article 1(a). Retrieved May 15, 2024; Government of Spain. (1995). Penal Code of Spain (as amended), Organic Law 10/1995, November 23, 2995. Retrieved March 4, 2024.
Government of Sudan. (2019). Constitution of Sudan, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Orr, G. (1998). “Ballotless and Behind Bars: Denial of the Franchise to Incarcerated People,” Federal Law Review, Vol. 26.
Government of Switzerland. (2014). Federal Constitution of Switzerland, Article 136. Retrieved May 15, 2024; BBC News. (2022). “Prisoner Votes by European Country”. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Taiwan. Penal Code of Taiwan, Article 36. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Jono Thomson, J. (2023). “Taipei court rules in favor of prisoner’s right to vote.”
Government of Tanzania. Constitution of Tanzania. Retrieved December 4, 2023; Government of Tanzania. (2023). National Elections Act of the United Republic of Tanzania. Retrieved December 4, 2023; High Court of Tanzania. (2022). Civil Cause Number 3 of 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
Ugandan High Court. (2020). Kalali v Attorney General & Anor (Miscellaneous Cause No. 35 of 2018) [2020] UGHCCD 172. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Ukraine. Constitution of Ukraine, Article 71. Retrieved May 15, 2024; BBC News. (2022). “Prisoner Votes by European Country”. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Africa Criminal Justice Reform. (2020). “The Right of Incarcerated people to Vote in Africa,”[Fact Sheet]. Retrieved May 15, 2024; Muyatwa Legal Partners. (2020). “The right of incarcerated people to vote under current Zambian Law,” Legal News. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

Source: Legal research and analysis performed by Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton for Human Rights Watch, 2023-2024 and by researchers in the five regional divisions of Human Rights Watch.

Countries that restrict the right to vote only while a person is in prison

The 46 countries in Table III disenfranchise people for a wider set of offenses than those in Table II but during incarceration only, which is similar to the disenfranchisement laws in 23 U.S. states.177

Table III. Forty-six Countries Deny Voting Rights Only During Term of Imprisonment

All country incarceration rates: World Prison Brief. “World Prison Brief Data”. Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
Government of Algeria. (2021). Electoral Law of Algeria, Article 52, 59, and 284. Retrieved May 10, 2024.
Government of Angola. (2004). Electoral Law of Angola, Articles 11, 12, and 178. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
Government of Argentina. (2021). Electoral Code of Argentina, Articles 3 and 5. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Bahrain. Bahrain Penal Code, Part III, Chapter 1, Articles 49 and 50, 1976. Bahrain, Law 14 of 2002 (“A person is prohibited from practicing political rights if he is sentenced for a crime or incarcerated, until he finishes his sentence.”).
Government of Belarus. Constitution of Belarus, Article 64. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Botswana. (2016). Botswana Constitution, Section 67(5) Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Botswana Elections Act, Sections 6(1)b and 6(2) Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Government of Botswana. (1986). Botswana Penal Code. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Brazil. (2017). Constitution of Brazil, Chapter IV, Article 15. Retrieved February 9, 2024; Brazil Supreme Electoral Court. Tribunal Superior Eleitoral. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
Government of Bulgaria. (1991). Constitution of Bulgaria, Article 42(1). Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Convention on Human Rights. (2016). The case of Kulinski & Sabev v Bulgaria. European Court of Human Rights. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Cambodia. (1997). Cambodia Law on Elections for Members of the Assembly, Article 50. United Nations Refugee Agency. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Colombia. (1986). The Electoral Code of Colombia. Article 70. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; CNN Español. (2022). “Pueden Votar Presos Elecciones Colombia,” CNN Latin America.
Cuba Constitution, Article 205; Electoral Law of Cuba, Article 8 (2019).
Government of Ecuador. (2021). Constitution of Ecuador, Article 64, Paragraph 2, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Equatorial Guinea. Penal Code of Equatorial Guinea, Chapter III, Section 2 and 3. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Government of The Gambia. (1996). Electoral Act of The Gambia, Article 13(b). Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Government of Guatemala. Electoral Code of Guatemala, Articles 4 and 5. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Government of Guinea-Bissau. (2019). Electoral Law of Guinea-Bissau, Article 9. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Government of Haiti. (1985). Haiti Penal Code, Articles 9, 17, 18. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Government of Hungary. The Fundamental Law of Hungary, Article XXXIII (6).
Government of India. The Representation of the People Act 1951, Section 62(5); Government of India. (1997). Anukul Chandra Pradhan vs Union of India & Ors., Supreme Court of India. Supreme Court of India.
Government of Jamaica.(2015). Constitution of Jamaica, Article 37(2). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Japan. Public Offices Election Act of Japan, Article 11. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Kazakhstan. (1913). Kazakhstan Electoral Code, Article 4(a). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Kyrgyzstan. (2011). Kyrgyzstan Electoral Code, Article 3(3). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Mali. (2001). Penal Code of Mali, Article 6, Section 2, Article 8, Section 1. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Government of Mali. (2013). Electoral Guide of Mali. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Mauritania. Penal Code of Mauritania, Articles 23 and 27.
Government of Mexico. (2015). Constitution of Mexico of 1917 with amendments, Article 38. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Mongolia. (2015). Electoral Code for the Election of President, Article 11.5. Retrieved May 15, 2024; Government of Mongolia. (2020). Electoral Code for the Election of the Legislature, Article 5.3. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Nicaragua. (2011). Penal Law of Nicaragua, Article 55 and 56. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Government of Nicaragua. Constitution of Nicaragua, Art. 47. Retrieved May 15, 2024
Government of Niger. Electoral Code of Niger, Article 8; Penal Code of Niger, Articles 12, 38-40.
Government of Papua New Guinea. (2016). Constitution of Papua New Guinea, Article 50(1). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Paraguay. (1996). Electoral Code, Article 91 (Law 834). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Peru. (2021). Constitution of Peru, Article 33. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of the Russian Federation. Constitution of the Russian Federation, Chapter 2, Article 32.3. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Sierra Leone. (2022). Public Elections Act, Section 17(b)-(c), 2022. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Singapore. (1954). Singapore Parliamentary Elections Act (1954), Section 6(1A). Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of the Republic of Korea. (2016). Republic of Korea Public Official Elections Act, Article 18. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Tajikistan. Electoral Code of Tajikistan, Article 2.
Government of Thailand. (2017). Constitution of Thailand, Section 96. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Turkey. (2017). Criminal Code, Article 53. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Turkmenistan. (2016). Constitution of Turkmenistan, Article 119. Retrieved May 15, 2024.; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. (2023). Parliamentary Elections in Turkmenistan, 2023. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of the United Kingdom. (1983). Representation of the People Act, United Kingdom, Section 3. Retrieved May 15, 2024; Johnston, N. (2023). Prisoners’ Voting Rights Research Briefing. United Kingdom Parliament. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Uruguay. Constitution of Uruguay, Article 80.
Government of Venezuela. (2015). Venezuela Penal Code, Articles 10, 16, 24. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Vietnam. (2015). Vietnam’s Law on Election of Deputies to the National Assembly and People’s Councils, Article 30, Section 1, 2. Retrieved May 16, 2024.
Government of Zimbabwe. (2013). Constitution of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe’s Constitution of 2013, Fourth Schedule. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

Source: Legal research and analysis performed by Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton for Human Rights Watch, 2023-2024 and by researchers in the five regional divisions of Human Rights Watch. All country incarceration rates come from The World Prison Brief hosted by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London, https://www.prisonstudies.org/world-prison-brief-data.

Countries that impose more far-reaching restrictions on voting rights

The 14 countries in Table IV disenfranchise people for a wider set of offenses than those in Table III, and the loss of voting rights continues for some period after incarceration – much like the disenfranchisement laws in 14 U.S. states.178

Table IV. Fourteen Countries Deny Voting Rights During Term of Imprisonment and Some Period Thereafter

Table IV. Fourteen Countries Deny Voting Rights During Term of Imprisonment and Some Period Thereafter

All country incarceration rates: World Prison Brief. “World Prison Brief Data”. Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London. Retrieved May 13, 2024.
Government of Cameroon. (2012). Electoral Code of Cameroon, Section 47. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of the Central African Republic. Electoral Code of the Central African Republic, Article 5.
Government of El Salvador. (1983, Amended 2003). Constitution of El Salvador, Articles 75 and 77. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Guinea. (2010). Electoral Code of Guinea, Article 7. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Kuwait News Agency. (2008). “Rehabilitation Is a Prerequisite for Exercising the Right to Vote for Convicts”.
European Court of Human Rights. (2012). Scopolla v. Italy,, Case Number 126/05. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Lebanon. (2017). Electoral Law of Lebanon, (Law Number 44), Article 4, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Oman. Penal Act of Oman, Omani Penal Act, 2018, Article 58.
Government of Philippines. (1985). Omnibus Elections Code of Philippines, Section 118. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Qatar. Qatar Electoral Law, Article 3; Qatar Penal Code, Article 66.
Government of Rwanda. (2019). Rwanda Electoral Code, 2019, Articles 7 and 8. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Senegal. Penal Code, Article 29, Article 31, Article 34.
Government of Sri Lanka. (2023). Constitution of Sri Lanka, Article 89. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
Government of Syria. (2014). General Elections Law of Syria, Article 5. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

Source: Legal research and analysis performed by Cleary, Gottlieb for Human Rights Watch, 2023-2024. All country incarceration rates come from The World Prison Brief hosted by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), at Birkbeck, University of London, https://www.prisonstudies.org/world-prison-brief-data.

Five countries impose permanent disenfranchisement

In five countries—the Republic of the Congo,179 Côte d’Ivoire,180 Madagascar,181 Morocco,182 and Togo183—people whose convictions fall in certain categories are disenfranchised permanently. These five countries are in the same category with the 11 U.S. states that permanently disenfranchise at least some people convicted of felonies.

Impacted Individuals from Around the World

João Luis Silva, Brazil

João Luis Silva is 41 years old, and was born and raised in the low and mid-income neighborhood of Irajá in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.220 He is married and has an eight-year-old child. Silva told Human Rights Watch that he simply did not have the economic opportunities in Irajá to provide for his family as he wanted to. Silva was arrested for fraud in 2010 and convicted in 2011. During the approximately 12 months he was detained in jail before his conviction, he did not vote. Silva was unable to vote during his time in jail, although he wanted to do so, because jails in Brazil are not set up to accommodate voting. This is despite the fact that voting is mandatory in Brazil, including during the pre-conviction time people spend in jail.221 Given this contradiction between Brazilian law and practice, when Silva was released from prison in 2014 he was assessed a small fine of approximately US $3 (15 Brazilian Reais) to have his voting status restored due to the fact that he had not voted during his pre-conviction time in jail. Brazil disenfranchises people once they have been convicted of a crime, for the duration of their imprisonment, so Silva also did not vote during the three years he spent in prison after his conviction, but was not penalized for the latter period of non-voting.

When Silva was released on probation in 2014, under Brazilian law he was again allowed to vote. He paid the fine assessed for his period of non-voting while in pre-trial detention, became involved with a Brazilian non-governmental organization that promotes human rights and effective, rights-respecting public security policies, called Rio de Paz, and voted for the first time again in 2016 while he was still on probation. He told Human Rights Watch he had one kind of life “before and another after Rio de Paz. When I left [prison], I went back to high school and studied law. I worked at Rio de Paz for eight years.”220

Silva now serves on the human rights commission of the Rio de Janeiro state legislature and is working to ensure voting is possible in jails as well as advocating for voting rights for people incarcerated in Brazil.

Not being able to vote pushes you to the margins of society. When you recover that [right to vote], it is as if you are coming back to society….Being [a] part of citizenship means a lot. It meant a lot to me when I voted for the first time after being released. I felt I was contributing to changing the country. It gave me strength to follow my current path.((test))

João Luis Silva

Human Rights Watch interview with João Luis Silva, Rio de Janeiro, December 11, 2023.

Yannick Deslandes, France

Yannick Deslandes (pseudonym) is the author of the book Au-delà les murs, published in September 2023. He was interviewed in France for this report by researchers for Prison Insider. Yannick said:

I’ve been incarcerated several times in my life. Some of the rulings deprived me of my civil rights for a long time. At the time, I wasn’t interested in voting. I noticed when I was first incarcerated that some prisoners were able to benefit from leave to vote, or could vote inside the prison itself.

I voted for the first time in prison during the 2019 European elections, while I was incarcerated at the Poitiers-Vivonne prison. I was there for two and a half years. At the time, I was nearing the end of my sentence.

I remember receiving the different political party programs beforehand. A big meeting was organized in the prison to inform us about the electoral process. We were given explanations on how the distribution of seats in the European Parliament was organized, on the importance of exercising the right to vote, and so on.

On the day of the vote, I was granted leave for two reasons: to cast my ballot and to be baptized. Accompanied by my wife and my mother, I went to vote in the place closest to the prison. It was in a school hall or a town hall, I can’t remember. I was the only one who had been granted leave. The others voted inside the prison. There must have been twenty or thirty of them.

I was in prison for more than thirty years. I have to say that over time, access to voting in prison has really improved. It may not be the same in all facilities, but it’s important to say it works when it does. For years, many prisoners thought they couldn’t vote in prison. So, it’s very important to get the word out.”223

International Human Rights Law

The right to vote is a cornerstone of democratic, representative government that reflects the will of the people. The international consensus on the importance of this right is demonstrated in part by the fact that it is protected in international human rights law, including Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the United States is party, and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.224 The UN Human Rights Committee, the body responsible for interpreting and applying the ICCPR to state practice, stated with regard to the United States in 2023 that it “remains concerned at the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws and at the lengthy and cumbersome voting restoration procedures.”225 The Committee recommended that the U.S. “[r]edouble its efforts to ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have served their sentences in full or have been released on parole; provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options; remove lengthy and cumbersome voting restoration procedures; and review the automatic denial of the right of imprisoned felons to vote.”226

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination prohibits racial discrimination in voting in purpose or effect. The Committee LAWon Racial Discrimination, the UN body charged with interpreting and applying the treaty to state practice, has specifically expressed concern in the US over “the political disenfranchisement of a large segment of the ethnic minority population who are denied the right to vote by disenfranchising laws and practices” based on criminal convictions.227 International human rights law “does not impose any particular electoral system.”228 But the ICCPR provides that “every citizen shall have the right and opportunity” without discrimination or “unreasonable restrictions” to “vote and be elected at genuine periodic elections…guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors.”229 The trend in international and domestic law on voting has increasingly been toward inclusion and non-discrimination against groups who were previously excluded from the franchise.230 This consensus comes in part from the importance of the right to vote as a cornerstone for many other international human rights. As a result, Human Rights Watch, as of 2022, has begun calling on all governments to repeal laws and regulations that restrict individuals’ right to vote based on their incarceration or conviction for any criminal offense; and to eliminate barriers that in practice deny the ability to vote to people held pretrial, incarcerated people, or people with past convictions who would otherwise be eligible.

Conclusions and Policy Recommendations

This report documents differences between the United States and 136 other countries’ policies and practices on voting rights for people with criminal convictions. In recent years, there has been significant momentum for expanding voting rights to citizens with prior justice involvement around the world. Yet as a result of criminal legal system policies in most of the United States, over 4.4 million persons are disenfranchised due to a criminal conviction. Advancing changes in US policy and practice will help guarantee voting rights for citizens impacted by the justice system.

In the United States, there is also growing momentum to guarantee voting rights for persons completing their sentence in prison and jail. There is pending legislation in the United States Congress which would allow all persons completing their sentence, including those in prison, to vote in federal elections.231 Strengthening voting in correctional facilities ensures electoral participation for residents most at risk of being disenfranchised. The adoption of state and local policies helps momentum for reform.

This report documents efforts to expand and guarantee voting rights of criminal legal system-involved residents and offers policy and practice measures for stakeholders to adopt. These solutions can be achieved through various mechanisms, including legislative reform, local actions, and administrative and executive action. Directly impacted individuals, civic, and nongovernmental groups can also play a role in expanding rights restoration by helping returning citizens gather information and navigate the restoration process.

The time has come to restore the right to vote to all US citizens of voting age, and make sure that no-one is disenfranchised on the grounds of criminal system involvement going forward. Permitting disenfranchisement based on criminal system involvement, particularly if it applies to broad categories of people as happens in the United States, delegitimizes US democracy and further compounds existing marginalization and racial discrimination. The right to vote, and the legitimacy of the democratic system in the United States, should not depend on its criminal legal system, which is built out of and perpetuates structures of discrimination.

Recommendations

To the constituent states of the United States and the US federal government:

  • End felony disenfranchisement and extend voting rights to all otherwise voting-eligible persons without regard to their criminal legal system contact or convictions.
  • Eliminate “pay to vote” rights restoration practices. Requirements to pay court-related fines and fees impacts voter eligibility, resulting in a modern-day poll tax for justice-impacted citizens. In the United States, this policy is rooted in historical practices intended to reduce electoral participation of citizens of color who would otherwise be eligible to vote.

To all levels of government in all countries, including in the United States:

  • Extend and restore voting rights to all otherwise voting-eligible persons without regard to their criminal legal system contact or convictions.
  • Establish polling centers or otherwise effectively facilitate voting in all correctional facilities. In the United States, some jurisdictions in Illinois, California, Colorado, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Texas have established polling centers in jails and prisons. Internationally, jurisdictions in many countries have done so or plan to do so as well, including Chile, Croatia, Greece and the Netherlands, to name just a few.
  • Government officials should implement effective practices to notify all eligible voters impacted by the criminal legal system of their voting rights. Information should be easily available from state agency websites, including all corrections and election agencies, and provided in formats that are accessible to voters with disabilities and a variety of language needs. Changes in laws and policies require governments to provide clear and accessible information to residents impacted by the criminal legal system who are eligible to vote.

1.

This report uses person first-language to refer to people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. When necessary to specify voting eligibility, sometimes the word citizen is used.

2.

Kelley, K. (2017). Racism and Felony Disenfranchisement: An Intertwined History. The Brennan Center. Brennan Center for Justice, at pg. 1.

3.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). Locked out 2022: Estimates of people denied voting rights due to a felony conviction. The Sentencing Project, at pg. 2.

4.

American Correctional Association (1984). Vital Statistics in Corrections, 1984. American Correctional Association; Bellin, J. (2022). Corrections Compendium, 3(9). American Correctional Association; Enns, P. (2016). Incarceration nation: How the United States became addicted to prisons and jails and how it can recover. Cambridge University Press.

5.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 8.

6.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). at pg. 2.

7.

One of the mechanisms that contributes to the relative rarity of criminal disenfranchisement globally is the fact that under the law of many countries, a judge must decide that restricting voting rights is necessary based on the individual case before them. Such individual decision making does not occur in the US criminal legal system. Criminal disenfranchisement in the United States is imposed automatically upon conviction. In addition, since convictions often result from plea bargaining and not from a full trial, and since many sentences are mandatory upon conviction, judges in the United States often play a limited role in conviction outcomes and in the sentence imposed. See, for example, Human Rights Watch. (2013). An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead.

8.

United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 21. Retrieved May 7, 2024.

9.

U.S. Sentencing Commission. Federal Offenders in Prison. FY 1991 through FY 2022 Datafiles, USSCFY91-USSCFY22, and Preliminary Data from FY 2023, USSCFY23. Retrieved May 7, 2024.

10.

Rosenmerkel, S. Durose, M. and Farole, D. (2009). Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006-Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

11.

Drugs and public order offenses comprise 88.6 percent of all federal offenses for which people were incarcerated in federal prisons in 2022. Carson, E.A. and Kluckow, R. (2023). Prisoners in 2022 – Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

12.

In the most recent nationwide analysis of state law felonies, violent offenses were 18.2 percent of state felonies, property offenses were 28.4 percent, and drug offenses were 33.4 percent. See Rosenmerkel, S. Durose, M. and Farole, D. (2009). Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006-Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

13.

Mauer, M. and Fellner, J. (1998). Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States. The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch.

14.

Taylor, J.R. (2018). Jim Crow’s Lasting Legacy At The Ballot Box .The Marshall Project.

15.

Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer. The Sentencing Project, at pg. 3.

16.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 3.

17.

Kelley, K. (2017). Racism and Felony Disenfranchisement: An Intertwined History. The Brennan Center. Brennan Center for Justice.

18.

Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer. The Sentencing Project.

19.

The Library of Congress. Voting Rights for African Americans. Retrieved April 6, 2024.

20.

The Library of Congress. Voting Rights for African Americans.

21.

Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer, at pg. 3.

22.

Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer, at pg. 2.

23.

Human Rights Watch. (2016). Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States.

24.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.

25.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.

26.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.

27.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022) at pg. 2.

28.

Human Rights Watch. (2010). Branded for Life: Florida’s Prosecution of Children as Adults under its Direct File Statute.

29.

Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules That Apply After a Criminal Conviction. Retrieved May 1, 2024.

30.

Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules That Apply After a Criminal Conviction; Research has found that criminal prosecutions for corrupt election practices are rare in the United States. see Levitt, Justin. (2007). “The Truth About Voter Fraud.” New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice and Minnite, Lorraine. (2010). The Myth of Voter Fraud. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

31.

The Sentencing Project. (2022). New National Poll shows Majority Favor Guaranteed Right to Vote for All. Retrieved May 1, 2024.

32.

Brennan Center for Justice, Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 1, 2024.

33.

Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023). Expand the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2023. The Sentencing Project.

34.

Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023).

35.

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (2013). Democracy Imprisoned: A review of the prevalence and impact of felony disenfranchisement laws in the United States. Retrieved May 7, 2024.

36.

MacLauchlan,S. (2013). Gov. McDonnell: automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons. NBC News 12.

37.

Fiske, W. (2021). McAuliffe: “I restored felons’ rights – 173,000 – more than any governor in the history of America.”. National Public Radio.

38.

Howell v. McAuliffe, 788 S.E.2d 706 (Va. 2016); Domonoske C. (2016). Virginia Court Overturns Order That Restored Voting Rights to Felons. National Public Radio.

39.

Fiske, W. (2021).

40.

Romo V. (2021). Virginia Governor Clears Path for ExConvicts to Regain Voting Rights. National Public Radio.

41.

Moomaw, G. (2023). Virginia Mercury, Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back. Paviour, B. (2023). Gov. Youngkin slows voting rights restorations in Virginia, bucking a trend. National Public Radio.

42.

King, E. (2018). Florida voters approve amendment to restore right to vote for felons who have served their time. ABC News.

43.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020). Litigation to Protect Amendment 4 in Florida.

44.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020).

45.

ACLU of Florida.(2018). Voter Restoration Amendment Text; Mazzei, P. (2020). Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Fines Before Voting, Appeals Court Rules. The New York Times.

46.

Fl. Stat. ch.§ 98.0751 (2)(a)(5) (2022).

47.

Returning citizen refers to individuals returning from incarceration.

48.

Jones v. Governor of Florida, 975 F.3d 1016, 1049 (11th Cir. 2020) (en banc).

49.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). Locked out 2022: Estimates of people denied voting rights due to a felony conviction. The Sentencing Project.

50.

Bullington, J & Kenning, C. (2019). Gov. Andy Beshear restores voting rights to more than 140,000 nonviolent Kentucky felons The Courier Journal.

51.

Wines, M. (2019). Kentucky Gives Voting Rights to Some 140,000 Former Felons. The New York Times.

52.

Bullington, J & Kenning, C. (2019).

53.

Burness, A. (2023). Kentucky’s Governor Race Could Unwind Voting Rights Restoration. Bolts Magazine.

54.

Zernike, K. (2005). Iowa Governor Will Give Felons the Right to Vote. The New York Times.

55.

Sample, B. (2011). Voting Rights Must Be “Earned” Back, Says Iowa Governor. Prison Legal News.

56.

Chiodo v. Section 43.24 Panel, 846 N.W.2d 845 (Iowa 2014).

57.

Sostaric, K. (2020). Governor Acts to Restore Voting Rights to Iowans With Felony Convictions. National Public Radio.; Reynold, K. (2020, August, 5). Gubernatorial Executive Order Number Seven, Registering to Vote After A Felony Conviction. Office of the Iowa Governor.

58.

Gruber-Miller, S. and Richardson, R. (2020). Gov. Kim Reynolds signs executive order restoring felon voting rights, removing Iowa’s last-in-the-nation status. Des Moines Register.

59.

All of these states still disenfranchise incarcerated individuals with a felony conviction. Only Maine, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia allow incarcerated individuals with felony convictions to vote.

60.

McMiller, D. (2008). The Campaign to Restore the Voting Rights of People Convicted of a Felony and Sentenced to Probation in Connecticut. American Behavioral Scientist.

61.

Public Act 01-11 (2001); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a.

62.

Public Act 21-2 (2021); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a.

63.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a(1); see also U.S. Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules that Apply After a Criminal Conviction.

64.

Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020). Felons on parole get right to vote restored in decisive California ballot measure. ABC Eyewitness News. Retrieved May 17, 2024.

65.

Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020).; California Secretary of State (2024, May, 2). Voting Rights: Persons with a Criminal History. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

66.

Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020).; The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020). California Voters Approve Prop. 17, Restoring Voting Rights to People Who Have Completed Prison Terms. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

67.

ACLU California Action. (2024). Restore Voting Rights in Prison (ACA 4). Retrieved May 2, 2024.

68.

New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020). Voting Rights of New Yorkers with Felony Convictions. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

69.

New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020).

70.

The Brennan Center for Justice. CAN I VOTE? Frequently Asked Questions by People with Criminal Records. Retrieved May 3, 2024.

71.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2021). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in New York. Retrieved May 3, 2024.

72.

S. 830B. Ny., Sess. (NY. 2021-2022).

73.

New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020).

74.

State of New Jersey Department of State. Voter Restoration Handbook, Retrieved May 2, 2024.at p. 1.

75.

Romo, V. (2019). New Jersey Governor Signs Bills Restoring Voting Rights To More Than 80,000 People. National Public Radio.

76.

Walters, J. (2020). People With Convictions Cast Ballots in New Jersey Primary After Regaining Right to Vote. The Guardian.

77.

Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023), at pg. 16.

78.

Office of the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. (2023, May 30). Gov. Lujan Grisham Signs New Mexico Voting Rights Act Into Law. Retrieved May 2, 2024. Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023) at pg 17.

79.

Schroeder v. Minn. Sec’y of State, No. A20-1264, slip op. at 30 (Minn. 2023).

80.

League of Women Voters. (2023, March 3). Case Summary: Schroeder v. Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

81.

Karnowski, S. (2023). Minnesota Senate approves restoring voting rights for felons. The Associated Press.

82.

Charalambous, P. (2023). Voting rights restored to more than 55,000 Minnesota felons under new voting rights law. ABC News.

83.

Crisp, E. (2019). Thousands of felons in Louisiana will regain voting rights when this law takes effect March 1. The Advocate.

84.

La. Stat. § 18:102 (2022).

85.

La. Stat. § 18:102 (2022).

86.

Crisp, E. (2019).

87.

Crisp, E. (2019).

88.

Wash Const. art. VI, § 3.

89.

Leshikar, M. (2021). Bill restoring voting rights to Washingtonians with felonies heads to Gov. Inslee for signature.

90.

Leshikar, M. (2021).

91.

O’Sullivan, J. (2021). Bill restores voting rights to Washingtonians with felonies upon release from prison. Seattle Times.

92.

Washington Secretary of State,. (2024, May, 2). Felony Convictions and Voting Rights. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

93.

Lerner, K. (2022). The District of Columbia allows incarcerated people to vote, a rarity in the U.S. Virginia Mercury.

94.

Restore the Vote Act Amendment of 2020, D.C. Law 23-277 (2020), (enacted).

95.

Correction Information Council. (2024, May, 2). Voting While Incarcerated. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

96.

Sheets, C. (2017). Alabama Legislature approves bill that would restore ‘many’ felons’ voting rights. AL News.

97.

The list of five included driving under the influence and aiding and abetting. Sheets, C. (2017). Alabama Legislature approves bill that would restore ‘many’ felons’ voting rights. AL News; Equal Justice Initiative (2016). Support Grows for Restoration of Voting Rights to Formerly Incarcerated People in Alabama. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

98.

Equal Justice Initiative (2016).

99.

Thompson v. Alabama, No. 2:16-CV-783. (U.S. Dist. 1809). (M.D. Ala. July 28, 2017).

100.

Alabama H.B. 282 (2017); The Alabama Secretary of State lists several offenses as crimes of moral turpitude that disqualify residents with certain felony convictions from voting. Alabama’s disenfranchising crimes of moral turpitude include specified murder, kidnapping, drug, and theft offenses.

101.

Montgomery Advertiser. (2016). Restore voting rights to ex-felons.

102.

Sheets, C. (2017). In wake of reports, Alabama clarifies that some felons can vote despite debts. AL News; U.S. Vote Foundation. Alabama Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

103.

Yawn, A. (2019). Felony voting rights restored for some in Alabama, but many more ‘do not know they can vote’. Montgomery Advertiser.

104.

Levine, S. (2017). Alabama Won’t Help Disenfranchised Citizens Understand If They Can Now Vote. Huffington Post.

105.

The Brennan Center for Justice (2014). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Arizona. Retrieved May 2, 2024. U.S. Vote Foundation. Arizona Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

106.

The Brennan Center for Justice (2014). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Arizona. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

107.

A.R.S. § 13-908; Campaign Legal Center, Arizona Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved June 18, 2024. 

108.

See Blasius, M. (2022). Arizona law makes it easier for felons to vote again. ABC 15 Arizona (discussing H.B. 2119).

109.

A.R.S. § 13-908.

110.

Collateral Consequences Resource Center. Delaware Restoration of Rights and Records Relief. Retrieved May 2, 2024. WHYY. (2013). Delaware restores voting rights to felons. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

111.

Delaware Code Title 15 § 6103(c) (2022).

112.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2018). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Delaware. Retrieved May 2, 2024.; State of Delaware Department of Elections. Persons Convicted of a Felony. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

113.

The governor cannot grant a pardon or commutation in the absence of an affirmative recommendation of a majority of the Board of Pardons after a full hearing, but the governor is not bound to accept the Board’s affirmative recommendation; Collateral Consequences Resource Center, Delaware Restoration of Rights & Record Relief; see also Delaware Code Title 15 § 6103 (2022).

114.

State of Delaware Department of Elections. Persons Convicted of a Felony. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

115.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2024, April, 12). Felon Voting Rights. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

116.

Moomaw, G. (2023). Virginia Mercury, Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back. Gruber-Miller, S. and Richardson, R. (2020). Gov. Kim Reynolds signs executive order restoring felon voting rights, removing Iowa’s last-in-the-nation status. Des Moines Register. Burness, A. (2023). Kentucky’s Governor Race Could Unwind Voting Rights Restoration. Bolts Magazine.

117.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Harness v. Hosemann, 988 F.3d 818 (5th Cir. 2021); Cmty Success Initiative v. Moore, 384 N.C. 194 (N.C., 2023).

118.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (2019, June). Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption, and the Effects on Communities. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

119.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 117.

120.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 117.

121.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2023, May, 12). 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy ‘Voter Fraud’ Prosecutions. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

122.

The Brennan Center for Justice. Voting With a Criminal Record in Florida. Retrieved May 2, 2024. at pg. 19.

123.

Democracy Docket. (2023, July 19). Florida Voting Rights Restoration Process Challenge. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

124.

Levine, S. (2017). Alabama Won’t Help Disenfranchised Citizens Understand If They Can Now Vote. Huffington Post.

125.

This was still the case as of February 2022. Southern Poverty Law Center. (2022). Louisiana Voting Rights Restoration Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

126.

Muller, W. (2023). Voter registration for formerly incarcerated could get streamlined in Louisiana. Louisiana Illuminator.

127.

Southern Poverty Law Center. (2022). Louisiana Voting Rights Restoration Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

128.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

129.

Kimble, C. & Grawert, A. (2021). Collateral Consequences and the Enduring Nature of Punishment. The Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

130.

Hartley, R.P. (2018). Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. The Poor People’s Campaign, at pg. 9.

131.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

132.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 129-31.

133.

Hartley, R.P. (2018). Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. The Poor People’s Campaign at 14-15. (discussing how voters frequently cite disillusionment and sense of nonmembership in community as a reason for not voting).

134.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R.

135.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, pg. at pg. 118.

136.

Kimble, C. & Grawert, A. (2021). Collateral Consequences and the Enduring Nature of Punishment. The Brennan Center for Justice; Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption, and the Effects on Communities. Retrieved May 2, 2024, at pg. 118.

137.

Brennan Center for Justice, 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy Voter Fraud Prosecutions.

138.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R., at pg. 13.

139.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R., at pg. 13.

140.

Healy, J. (2018). Arrested, Jailed, and Charged With a Felony. For Voting. The New York Times

141.

Turtinen, M. (2021). 5 Minnesotans charged, accused of voter fraud. Bring Me The News Minnesota. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

142.

Georgia Secretary of State. (2020, September, 11). State Election Board Refers Voter Fraud Cases for Prosecution. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

143.

The Brennan Center for Justice. (2023, May, 12). 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy ‘Voter Fraud’ Prosecutions. Retrieved May 2, 2024. and Healy, J. (2018). Arrested, Jailed, and Charged With a Felony. For Voting. The New York Times.

144.

Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R.; Blest, P. & Dowd, T. (2022). Complete Setup: Florida Crackdown Has ExFelons Afraid to Vote. VICE; Shuham, M. (2022). Some Eligible Ex-Felons Fear Voting Because of Ron DeSantis. The Huffington Post.; News Service of Florida. (2022). Florida Elections Officials Grapple with Misinformation, Myths.

145.

Prison Policy Initiative. (2020, October). Eligible, but excluded: A guide to removing the barriers to jail voting [Press Release].

146.

Jackson-Gleich, G. (2020). Eligible, but excluded: A guide to removing the barriers to jail voting. Prison Policy Initiative.

147.

Prison Policy Initiative.

148.

Prison Policy Initiative.

149.

National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023, December, 21). Ballot Collection Laws. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

150.

ACLU of Delaware. (2022, September, 13). Letter to Delaware Department of Correction. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

151.

ACLU of Delaware. (2022, September, 13).

152.

Liman Center at Yale Law School. (2021). Voting from Jail in Connecticut: Legally Permitted, Practically Possible. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

153.

Porter, N.D. (2020). Voting in Jails. The Sentencing Project.

154.

DC Corrections Information Council. (2023). Implementation of the Restore the Vote Amendment Act of 2020.

155.

Newkirk, V.R. (2016). Polls for Prisons. The Atlantic.

156.

Equal Justice Initiative. (2017). Felony Disenfranchisement Up 69% in Kentucky. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

157.

Burness, A. (2023). Kentucky’s Governor Race Could Unwind Voting Rights Restoration. Bolts Magazine.

158.

WTVQ News. (2020). Frankfort woman with a felony in her past, voting for the first time in years. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

159.

The Daily Independent. (2020). Kentucky Democracy Project Launches. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

160.

WTVQ News. (2020). Frankfort woman with a felony in her past, voting for the first time in years. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

161.

Graner, D. (2019). Guest Columnist: As a felon who can’t vote, she appreciates value of the ballot box. The State Journal.

162.

Kemker, A. (2019). After nearly 40 years, once convicted felon now gets the chance to vonate. WAFB.

163.

Hunter, M.H. (2013). From Life Sentence to Life. The Advocate.

164.

Yuriko Schumacher, Y. (2020). After 20 years in prison, voting rights activist Checo Yancy encourages you to register to vote. The Boston Scope.

165.

Voice of the Experienced. Checo Yancy: Policy Director, Voice of the Experienced. Retrieved May 2, 2024.

166.

89.3 WRKF Baton Rouge. (2019). Thousands Become Eligible to Vote Friday, as Louisiana’s New Felon Voting Law Takes Effect.

167.

Yuriko Schumacher, Y.

168.

Murphy, E. (2023). One woman’s journey from serving jail time to winning back the right to vote. WCCO CBS News Minnesota.

169.

Murphy, E. (2023). One woman’s journey from serving jail time to winning back the right to vote. WCCO CBS News Minnesota.

170.

Schroeder, J. (2023). My Conviction Meant 40 Years Without A Vote. Not Anymore. American Civil Liberties Union.

171.

Ferguson, D. (2023). Voting rights restored to 50,000 under new Minnesota law. Minnesota Public Radio News.

172.

Schroeder, J.

173.

Schroeder, J.

174.

These countries are: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, , Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

175.

These countries are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Eritrea, Gabon, Laos, Myanmar (though elections were held in 2020, the results were not honored, those elected were ousted in a coup, and Rohingya Muslims were disenfranchised), North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan (which does not yet have a Constitution and has not yet held any national elections), United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

176.

There are significant variations in the ways that countries define and categorize offenses. Countries that impose disenfranchisement due to criminal convictions tend to do so for more serious convictions, which may be loosely analogous to felony convictions in U.S. law.

177.

These states are: New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Connecticut.

178.

These states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana (voting rights restored after 5 years of supervision), Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

179.

Government of the Republic of Congo. Electoral Law of the Republic of Congo. Article 9.

180.

Government of Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire Constitution; Côte d’Ivoire Election Code, Article 4.

181.

Government of Madagascar. (2001). Penal Code of Madagascar, Article 28. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

182.

Government of Morocco. Law 7-97, Electoral Code of Morocco, Articles 7 and 8.

183.

Government of Togo. Electoral Code of Togo, Articles 44 and 1185.

184.

High Court of Uganda. (2020). Kalali v Attorney General & Anor (Miscellaneous Cause No. 35 of 2018) [2020] UGHCCD 172, para. 27. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

185.

High Court of Uganda. (2020). Kalali v Attorney General & Anor (Miscellaneous Cause No. 35 of 2018) [2020] UGHCCD 172, para. 27. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

186.

Uganda Monitor. (2023). “EC Wants Ugandans Abroad, Incarcerated people, to Vote in 2026,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

187.

Africa Criminal Justice Reform. (2020). “The Right of Incarcerated people to Vote in Africa,” [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

188.

AfricaNews. (2011). “Zambia’s Electoral Commission Registers the Country’s Inmates to Vote,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

189.

Parvaz, D. (2011) “Egypt Elections: Those Who Cannot Vote,” Al Jazeera. January 9, 2024.

190.

Government of France. Justice Ministry of France, “Présidentielle 2022 : large participation des personnes détenues,” Retrieved February 14, 2024; Sarrot, A. (2022). “Second tour de l’élection présidentielle : en prison, les détenus votent déjà,” Agence France Presse. Retrieved January 9, 2024.

191.

West. (2017). “Fact: are you actually allowed to vote if you are in prison?” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

192.

Government of Greece. (2019). Hellenic Parliament 4619/2019. Retrieved May 15, 2024.

193.

Government of Greece. (2021). Law Under NO. 4804 Official Gazette A 90/5.6.2021, Article 92. Retrieved January 26, 2024.

194.

Government of Tanzania. Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

195.

Government of Tanzania. National Elections Act of the United Republic of Tanzania. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

196.

High Court of Tanzania. (2022). Civil Cause Number 3 of 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

197.

High Court of Tanzania. (2022). Civil Cause Number 3 of 2022. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

198.

Scotcher, K. (2020). “Prisoner Voting Bill Passes in Chaotic Night at Parliament,” Radio New Zealand; Library of Congress. (2020). “New Zealand: Bill to Restore Voting Rights for Some Incarcerated people Introduced,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

199.

Radio New Zealand. (2019). “Justice Minister announces incarcerated people serving less than three years in jail will have voting rights restored,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

200.

Dunlop, M. (2019). “Ban on Incarcerated people Voting ‘Humiliation’ of Māori, Tribunal Told,” Radio New Zealand.

201.

Prison Reform Trust, “Voting Whilst in Prison,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

202.

Johnston, N. (2023). “Prisoners’ Voting Rights Research Briefing,” House of Commons Library. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

203.

Bowcott, O. (2017) “Council of Europe accepts UK compromise on prisoner voting rights,” The Guardian.

204.

Government of Uzebekistan. “Election Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan,”. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

205.

Uzbekistan Daily. (2023). “More than 34,000 People in Prisons in Uzbekistan Voted in Elections,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

206.

Freedom House, “Freedom in the World 2023: Uzbekistan,”. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

207.

Government of Chile. (2022). Law of Chile, No. 21.448, “Amending Electoral Law No. 21.385” (regarding voting location). Retrieved May 16, 2024.

208.

Servicio Electoral de Chile. (2022). “Voto de Personas Privadas de Libertad en el Plebiscito Constitucional,” Retrieved May 16, 2024.

209.

Government of Croatia. (2015). “Act on Amendments to the Act on the Election of Representatives to the Croatian Parliament”The Croatian Parliament. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

210.

Government of Kenya. (2013). “Petition 574,” High Court of Kenya, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

211.

Government of Kenya. (2010). Kenya Constitution, Article 83. Retrieved December 4, 2023; Government of Kenya. (2016). “Election Offences Act” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

212.

My Republica. (2022). “SC Orders Gov’t to Allow Employees, Security Personnel and Inmates to Vote,” Retrieved December 4, 2023. ; Kumat, R.K. (2022) “Ensure Voting Rights for Incarcerated people: SC,” The Himalayan Times. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

213.

My Republica. (2022). “Three Prisons in Kathmandu Valley Prepare for Voting,” Retrieved December 4, 2023; Kathmandu Post. (2022). “Achham Incarcerated people Eager to Cast Ballot But Only a Few Are Registered Voters,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

214.

My Republica. (2022). “Three Prisons in Kathmandu Valley Prepare for Voting,” Retrieved December 4, 2023; Kathmandu Post. (2022). “Achham Incarcerated people Eager to Cast Ballot But Only a Few Are Registered Voters,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

215.

RTV Oost. (2017). “Stem Overijssel: gevangenen mogen ook stemmen, mobiel stembureau in gevangenis Almelo,” RTV Oost. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

216.

Taiwan News. (2023). “Taipei court rules in favor of prisoner’s right to vote,” Retrieved May 16, 2024.

217.

BBC News. (2014). “Nigeria court backs incarcerated people’ vote,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

218.

BBC News. (2014). “Nigeria court backs incarcerated people’ vote,” Retrieved December 4, 2023.

219.

Oguntola, T. (2023). “INEC Rules Out Prison Inmates Voting In 2023,” Leadership Newspaper. Retrieved December 4, 2023.

220.

Human Rights Watch interview with João Luis Silva, Rio de Janeiro, December 11, 2023.

221.

Government of Brazil. Constitution of Brazil, Chapter IV, Articles 14 and 15.

222.

Human Rights Watch interview with João Luis Silva, Rio de Janeiro, December 11, 2023.

223.

Prison Insider interview with Yannick Deslandes (pseudonym), March 2024.

224.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). (1966). G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171. Retrieved May 20, 2024.

225.

United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (2023). “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America,” CCPR/C/USA/CO/5, para. 64. Retrieved May 20, 2024.

226.

United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (2023). “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America,” CCPR/C/USA/CO/5, para. 65. Retrieved May 20, 2024.

227.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (2022). “Concluding Observations of CERD: United States of America,” CERD/C/59/Misc.17/Rev.3, August 2001, para. 397. See also CERD, “Concluding Observations of CERD: United States of America,” CERD/C/USA/CO/10-12, September 2022, para.25. Retrieved May 20, 2024.

228.

United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (1996). CCPR General Comment No. 25, art. 25 (Participation in Public Affairs and the Right to Vote), The Right to Participate in Public Affairs, Voting Rights and the Right of Equal Access to Public Service, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.7 (1996), para. 21. Retrieved May 20, 2024.

229.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976, art. 25. The US ratified the ICCPR on June 8, 1992.

230.

For example, the UN Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that interprets the ICCPR and monitors state compliance, stated in a 1996 general comment on the right to vote that “established mental incapacity may be a ground for denying a person the right to vote.” UN HRC, CCPR General Comment No. 25, art. 25, para. 4. However, this statement has been superseded by the widespread adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires states party to “guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others” and allows for no exceptions based on disability. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted December 13, 2006, G.A. res. A/RES/61/106, entered into force May 3 2008, art. 29.

231.

Inclusive Democracy Act, H.R. 6643, 118th Congress (2023).

This report uses person first-language to refer to people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. When necessary to specify voting eligibility, sometimes the word citizen is used.
Kelley, K. (2017). Racism and Felony Disenfranchisement: An Intertwined History. The Brennan Center. Brennan Center for Justice, at pg. 1.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). Locked out 2022: Estimates of people denied voting rights due to a felony conviction. The Sentencing Project, at pg. 2.
American Correctional Association (1984). Vital Statistics in Corrections, 1984. American Correctional Association; Bellin, J. (2022). Corrections Compendium, 3(9). American Correctional Association; Enns, P. (2016). Incarceration nation: How the United States became addicted to prisons and jails and how it can recover. Cambridge University Press.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 8.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). at pg. 2.
One of the mechanisms that contributes to the relative rarity of criminal disenfranchisement globally is the fact that under the law of many countries, a judge must decide that restricting voting rights is necessary based on the individual case before them. Such individual decision making does not occur in the US criminal legal system. Criminal disenfranchisement in the United States is imposed automatically upon conviction. In addition, since convictions often result from plea bargaining and not from a full trial, and since many sentences are mandatory upon conviction, judges in the United States often play a limited role in conviction outcomes and in the sentence imposed. See, for example, Human Rights Watch. (2013). An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead.
United Nations. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 21. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
U.S. Sentencing Commission. Federal Offenders in Prison. FY 1991 through FY 2022 Datafiles, USSCFY91-USSCFY22, and Preliminary Data from FY 2023, USSCFY23. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
Rosenmerkel, S. Durose, M. and Farole, D. (2009). Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006-Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Drugs and public order offenses comprise 88.6 percent of all federal offenses for which people were incarcerated in federal prisons in 2022. Carson, E.A. and Kluckow, R. (2023). Prisoners in 2022 – Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
In the most recent nationwide analysis of state law felonies, violent offenses were 18.2 percent of state felonies, property offenses were 28.4 percent, and drug offenses were 33.4 percent. See Rosenmerkel, S. Durose, M. and Farole, D. (2009). Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006-Statistical Tables. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Mauer, M. and Fellner, J. (1998). Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States. The Sentencing Project and Human Rights Watch.
Taylor, J.R. (2018). Jim Crow’s Lasting Legacy At The Ballot Box .The Marshall Project.
Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer. The Sentencing Project, at pg. 3.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 3.
Kelley, K. (2017). Racism and Felony Disenfranchisement: An Intertwined History. The Brennan Center. Brennan Center for Justice.
Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer. The Sentencing Project.
The Library of Congress. Voting Rights for African Americans. Retrieved April 6, 2024.
The Library of Congress. Voting Rights for African Americans.
Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer, at pg. 3.
Chung, J. and Muhitch, K. (2021)., Voting Rights in the Era of Mass Incarceration: A Primer, at pg. 2.
Human Rights Watch. (2016). Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022), at pg. 2.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022) at pg. 2.
Human Rights Watch. (2010). Branded for Life: Florida’s Prosecution of Children as Adults under its Direct File Statute.
Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules That Apply After a Criminal Conviction. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules That Apply After a Criminal Conviction; Research has found that criminal prosecutions for corrupt election practices are rare in the United States. see Levitt, Justin. (2007). “The Truth About Voter Fraud.” New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice and Minnite, Lorraine. (2010). The Myth of Voter Fraud. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
The Sentencing Project. (2022). New National Poll shows Majority Favor Guaranteed Right to Vote for All. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
Brennan Center for Justice, Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023). Expand the Vote: State Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, 1997-2023. The Sentencing Project.
Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023).
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (2013). Democracy Imprisoned: A review of the prevalence and impact of felony disenfranchisement laws in the United States. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
MacLauchlan,S. (2013). Gov. McDonnell: automatically restore voting rights to non-violent felons. NBC News 12.
Fiske, W. (2021). McAuliffe: “I restored felons’ rights – 173,000 – more than any governor in the history of America.”. National Public Radio.
Howell v. McAuliffe, 788 S.E.2d 706 (Va. 2016); Domonoske C. (2016). Virginia Court Overturns Order That Restored Voting Rights to Felons. National Public Radio.
Fiske, W. (2021).
Romo V. (2021). Virginia Governor Clears Path for ExConvicts to Regain Voting Rights. National Public Radio.
Moomaw, G. (2023). Virginia Mercury, Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back. Paviour, B. (2023). Gov. Youngkin slows voting rights restorations in Virginia, bucking a trend. National Public Radio.
King, E. (2018). Florida voters approve amendment to restore right to vote for felons who have served their time. ABC News.
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020). Litigation to Protect Amendment 4 in Florida.
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020).
ACLU of Florida.(2018). Voter Restoration Amendment Text; Mazzei, P. (2020). Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Fines Before Voting, Appeals Court Rules. The New York Times.
Fl. Stat. ch.§ 98.0751 (2)(a)(5) (2022).
Returning citizen refers to individuals returning from incarceration.
Jones v. Governor of Florida, 975 F.3d 1016, 1049 (11th Cir. 2020) (en banc).
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R. (2022). Locked out 2022: Estimates of people denied voting rights due to a felony conviction. The Sentencing Project.
Bullington, J & Kenning, C. (2019). Gov. Andy Beshear restores voting rights to more than 140,000 nonviolent Kentucky felons The Courier Journal.
Wines, M. (2019). Kentucky Gives Voting Rights to Some 140,000 Former Felons. The New York Times.
Bullington, J & Kenning, C. (2019).
Burness, A. (2023). Kentucky’s Governor Race Could Unwind Voting Rights Restoration. Bolts Magazine.
Zernike, K. (2005). Iowa Governor Will Give Felons the Right to Vote. The New York Times.
Sample, B. (2011). Voting Rights Must Be “Earned” Back, Says Iowa Governor. Prison Legal News.
Chiodo v. Section 43.24 Panel, 846 N.W.2d 845 (Iowa 2014).
Sostaric, K. (2020). Governor Acts to Restore Voting Rights to Iowans With Felony Convictions. National Public Radio.; Reynold, K. (2020, August, 5). Gubernatorial Executive Order Number Seven, Registering to Vote After A Felony Conviction. Office of the Iowa Governor.
Gruber-Miller, S. and Richardson, R. (2020). Gov. Kim Reynolds signs executive order restoring felon voting rights, removing Iowa’s last-in-the-nation status. Des Moines Register.
All of these states still disenfranchise incarcerated individuals with a felony conviction. Only Maine, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia allow incarcerated individuals with felony convictions to vote.
McMiller, D. (2008). The Campaign to Restore the Voting Rights of People Convicted of a Felony and Sentenced to Probation in Connecticut. American Behavioral Scientist.
Public Act 01-11 (2001); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a.
Public Act 21-2 (2021); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-46a(1); see also U.S. Department of Justice. (2023). Guide to State Voting Rules that Apply After a Criminal Conviction.
Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020). Felons on parole get right to vote restored in decisive California ballot measure. ABC Eyewitness News. Retrieved May 17, 2024.
Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020).; California Secretary of State (2024, May, 2). Voting Rights: Persons with a Criminal History. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Martichoux, A. & Alpert, A. (2020).; The Brennan Center for Justice. (2020). California Voters Approve Prop. 17, Restoring Voting Rights to People Who Have Completed Prison Terms. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
ACLU California Action. (2024). Restore Voting Rights in Prison (ACA 4). Retrieved May 2, 2024.
New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020). Voting Rights of New Yorkers with Felony Convictions. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020).
The Brennan Center for Justice. CAN I VOTE? Frequently Asked Questions by People with Criminal Records. Retrieved May 3, 2024.
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2021). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in New York. Retrieved May 3, 2024.
S. 830B. Ny., Sess. (NY. 2021-2022).
New York Civil Liberties Union. (2020).
State of New Jersey Department of State. Voter Restoration Handbook, Retrieved May 2, 2024.at p. 1.
Romo, V. (2019). New Jersey Governor Signs Bills Restoring Voting Rights To More Than 80,000 People. National Public Radio.
Walters, J. (2020). People With Convictions Cast Ballots in New Jersey Primary After Regaining Right to Vote. The Guardian.
Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023), at pg. 16.
Office of the Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. (2023, May 30). Gov. Lujan Grisham Signs New Mexico Voting Rights Act Into Law. Retrieved May 2, 2024. Porter, N.D. and McLeod, M. (2023) at pg 17.
Schroeder v. Minn. Sec’y of State, No. A20-1264, slip op. at 30 (Minn. 2023).
League of Women Voters. (2023, March 3). Case Summary: Schroeder v. Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Karnowski, S. (2023). Minnesota Senate approves restoring voting rights for felons. The Associated Press.
Charalambous, P. (2023). Voting rights restored to more than 55,000 Minnesota felons under new voting rights law. ABC News.
Crisp, E. (2019). Thousands of felons in Louisiana will regain voting rights when this law takes effect March 1. The Advocate.
La. Stat. § 18:102 (2022).
La. Stat. § 18:102 (2022).
Crisp, E. (2019).
Crisp, E. (2019).
Wash Const. art. VI, § 3.
Leshikar, M. (2021). Bill restoring voting rights to Washingtonians with felonies heads to Gov. Inslee for signature.
Leshikar, M. (2021).
O’Sullivan, J. (2021). Bill restores voting rights to Washingtonians with felonies upon release from prison. Seattle Times.
Washington Secretary of State,. (2024, May, 2). Felony Convictions and Voting Rights. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Lerner, K. (2022). The District of Columbia allows incarcerated people to vote, a rarity in the U.S. Virginia Mercury.
Restore the Vote Act Amendment of 2020, D.C. Law 23-277 (2020), (enacted).
Correction Information Council. (2024, May, 2). Voting While Incarcerated. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Sheets, C. (2017). Alabama Legislature approves bill that would restore ‘many’ felons’ voting rights. AL News.
The list of five included driving under the influence and aiding and abetting. Sheets, C. (2017). Alabama Legislature approves bill that would restore ‘many’ felons’ voting rights. AL News; Equal Justice Initiative (2016). Support Grows for Restoration of Voting Rights to Formerly Incarcerated People in Alabama. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Equal Justice Initiative (2016).
Thompson v. Alabama, No. 2:16-CV-783. (U.S. Dist. 1809). (M.D. Ala. July 28, 2017).
Alabama H.B. 282 (2017); The Alabama Secretary of State lists several offenses as crimes of moral turpitude that disqualify residents with certain felony convictions from voting. Alabama’s disenfranchising crimes of moral turpitude include specified murder, kidnapping, drug, and theft offenses.
Montgomery Advertiser. (2016). Restore voting rights to ex-felons.
Sheets, C. (2017). In wake of reports, Alabama clarifies that some felons can vote despite debts. AL News; U.S. Vote Foundation. Alabama Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Yawn, A. (2019). Felony voting rights restored for some in Alabama, but many more ‘do not know they can vote’. Montgomery Advertiser.
Levine, S. (2017). Alabama Won’t Help Disenfranchised Citizens Understand If They Can Now Vote. Huffington Post.
The Brennan Center for Justice (2014). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Arizona. Retrieved May 2, 2024. U.S. Vote Foundation. Arizona Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
The Brennan Center for Justice (2014). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Arizona. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
A.R.S. § 13-908; Campaign Legal Center, Arizona Voting Rights Restoration. Retrieved June 18, 2024. 
See Blasius, M. (2022). Arizona law makes it easier for felons to vote again. ABC 15 Arizona (discussing H.B. 2119).
A.R.S. § 13-908.
Collateral Consequences Resource Center. Delaware Restoration of Rights and Records Relief. Retrieved May 2, 2024. WHYY. (2013). Delaware restores voting rights to felons. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Delaware Code Title 15 § 6103(c) (2022).
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2018). Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Delaware. Retrieved May 2, 2024.; State of Delaware Department of Elections. Persons Convicted of a Felony. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
The governor cannot grant a pardon or commutation in the absence of an affirmative recommendation of a majority of the Board of Pardons after a full hearing, but the governor is not bound to accept the Board’s affirmative recommendation; Collateral Consequences Resource Center, Delaware Restoration of Rights & Record Relief; see also Delaware Code Title 15 § 6103 (2022).
State of Delaware Department of Elections. Persons Convicted of a Felony. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2024, April, 12). Felon Voting Rights. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Moomaw, G. (2023). Virginia Mercury, Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back. Gruber-Miller, S. and Richardson, R. (2020). Gov. Kim Reynolds signs executive order restoring felon voting rights, removing Iowa’s last-in-the-nation status. Des Moines Register. Burness, A. (2023). Kentucky’s Governor Race Could Unwind Voting Rights Restoration. Bolts Magazine.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Harness v. Hosemann, 988 F.3d 818 (5th Cir. 2021); Cmty Success Initiative v. Moore, 384 N.C. 194 (N.C., 2023).
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (2019, June). Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption, and the Effects on Communities. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 117.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 117.
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2023, May, 12). 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy ‘Voter Fraud’ Prosecutions. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
The Brennan Center for Justice. Voting With a Criminal Record in Florida. Retrieved May 2, 2024. at pg. 19.
Democracy Docket. (2023, July 19). Florida Voting Rights Restoration Process Challenge. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Levine, S. (2017). Alabama Won’t Help Disenfranchised Citizens Understand If They Can Now Vote. Huffington Post.
This was still the case as of February 2022. Southern Poverty Law Center. (2022). Louisiana Voting Rights Restoration Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Muller, W. (2023). Voter registration for formerly incarcerated could get streamlined in Louisiana. Louisiana Illuminator.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (2022). Louisiana Voting Rights Restoration Fact Sheet. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Kimble, C. & Grawert, A. (2021). Collateral Consequences and the Enduring Nature of Punishment. The Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
Hartley, R.P. (2018). Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. The Poor People’s Campaign, at pg. 9.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at pg. 129-31.
Hartley, R.P. (2018). Unleashing the Power of Poor and Low-Income Americans: Changing the Political Landscape. The Poor People’s Campaign at 14-15. (discussing how voters frequently cite disillusionment and sense of nonmembership in community as a reason for not voting).
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, pg. at pg. 118.
Kimble, C. & Grawert, A. (2021). Collateral Consequences and the Enduring Nature of Punishment. The Brennan Center for Justice; Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption, and the Effects on Communities. Retrieved May 2, 2024, at pg. 118.
Brennan Center for Justice, 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy Voter Fraud Prosecutions.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R., at pg. 13.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R., at pg. 13.
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Georgia Secretary of State. (2020, September, 11). State Election Board Refers Voter Fraud Cases for Prosecution. Retrieved May 2, 2024.
The Brennan Center for Justice. (2023, May, 12). 10 Reasons Courts Should Toss Florida’s Flimsy ‘Voter Fraud’ Prosecutions. Retrieved May 2, 2024. and Healy, J. (2018). Arrested, Jailed, and Charged With a Felony. For Voting. The New York Times.
Uggen, C., Larson, R., Shannon, S., & Stewart, R.; Blest, P. & Dowd, T. (2022). Complete Setup: Florida Crackdown Has ExFelons Afraid to Vote. VICE; Shuham, M. (2022). Some Eligible Ex-Felons Fear Voting Because of Ron DeSantis. The Huffington Post.; News Service of Florida. (2022). Florida Elections Officials Grapple with Misinformation, Myths.
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These countries are: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, , Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
These countries are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Eritrea, Gabon, Laos, Myanmar (though elections were held in 2020, the results were not honored, those elected were ousted in a coup, and Rohingya Muslims were disenfranchised), North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan (which does not yet have a Constitution and has not yet held any national elections), United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
There are significant variations in the ways that countries define and categorize offenses. Countries that impose disenfranchisement due to criminal convictions tend to do so for more serious convictions, which may be loosely analogous to felony convictions in U.S. law.
These states are: New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Connecticut.
These states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana (voting rights restored after 5 years of supervision), Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Government of the Republic of Congo. Electoral Law of the Republic of Congo. Article 9.
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Oguntola, T. (2023). “INEC Rules Out Prison Inmates Voting In 2023,” Leadership Newspaper. Retrieved December 4, 2023.
Human Rights Watch interview with João Luis Silva, Rio de Janeiro, December 11, 2023.
Government of Brazil. Constitution of Brazil, Chapter IV, Articles 14 and 15.
Human Rights Watch interview with João Luis Silva, Rio de Janeiro, December 11, 2023.
Prison Insider interview with Yannick Deslandes (pseudonym), March 2024.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). (1966). G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (2023). “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America,” CCPR/C/USA/CO/5, para. 64. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (2023). “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United States of America,” CCPR/C/USA/CO/5, para. 65. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (2022). “Concluding Observations of CERD: United States of America,” CERD/C/59/Misc.17/Rev.3, August 2001, para. 397. See also CERD, “Concluding Observations of CERD: United States of America,” CERD/C/USA/CO/10-12, September 2022, para.25. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC). (1996). CCPR General Comment No. 25, art. 25 (Participation in Public Affairs and the Right to Vote), The Right to Participate in Public Affairs, Voting Rights and the Right of Equal Access to Public Service, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.7 (1996), para. 21. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976, art. 25. The US ratified the ICCPR on June 8, 1992.
For example, the UN Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that interprets the ICCPR and monitors state compliance, stated in a 1996 general comment on the right to vote that “established mental incapacity may be a ground for denying a person the right to vote.” UN HRC, CCPR General Comment No. 25, art. 25, para. 4. However, this statement has been superseded by the widespread adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires states party to “guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others” and allows for no exceptions based on disability. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted December 13, 2006, G.A. res. A/RES/61/106, entered into force May 3 2008, art. 29.
Inclusive Democracy Act, H.R. 6643, 118th Congress (2023).

About the Authors

  • Nicole D. Porter

    Senior Director of Advocacy

    Named a "New Civil Rights Leader" by Essence Magazine for her work to challenge mass incarceration, Nicole D. Porter manages The Sentencing Project’s state and local advocacy efforts on sentencing reform, voting rights, and confronting racial disparities in the criminal legal system.

    Read more about Nicole
  • Alison Parker

    US Program, Human Rights Watch

  • Trey Walk

    US Program, Human Rights Watch

  • Jonathan Topaz

    ACLU Voting Rights Project

  • Jennifer Turner

    ACLU Human Rights Program

  • Casey Smith

    ACLU Voting Rights Project

  • Makayla LaRonde-King

    ACLU Voting Rights Project

  • Julie Ebenstein

    ACLU Voting Rights Project

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