What are the Voting Rights for Ex-Felons for All 50 States?

By  //  October 5, 2020

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Space Coast had an article titled “Michael Bloomberg Spends $16 million in Flordia to pay Restitution for Former Felons to vote.”

When I first read that title, my first impression was that Bloomberg did something wrong, but after doing a bit of research, I am not so sure.  Just like social gambling on online casino sites, things are not so cut and dry.

What are the voting rights of felons in all 50 states?

This is one of those things that really annoys me about voting in the US.  There are 50 states, but each state has its own way of doing things.  This is not like, “what age can a person drive a harvester combine vehicle in NJ vs. Ohio?”

The winner of a federation election for President affects everybody.  So shouldn’t the laws for voting for the President be the same in every state?  There is only 1 President as opposed to representatives, where each state has its own representative?

Never lose your voting rights

Maine and Vermont

Voting rights restored once you get out of prison

Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Utah

Voting rights restored after you get out of prison and have completed parole

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin

Other

• Alabama – Mentally incompetent people can’t vote.  If you plead insanity, your voting rights can never be restored.

• Arizona – After payment of fees, first time offenders can get votes restored automatically.  Other offenders have to appear before a judge to get their voting rights restored.

• Delaware – Criminals who did murder, bribery, or sex offenses can never get their voting rights restored.

• Florida – Restored after payment of outstanding fines.

• Iowa – Voting restored through a pardon by the governor.

• Kentucky – Voting restored through a pardon by the governor.

• Mississippi – Criminals who did murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy can never get their voting rights back, except under a governor pardon.

• Nebraska – Two year waiting period after parole finished.

• Tennessee – Need to petition for voting rights to be restored.  Not automatic.

• Virginia – Need to petition for voting rights to be restored.  Not automatic.

• Wyoming – First time offenders restored automatically.  Multiple offenders have to petition for rights to be restored.

Have voting rights laws changed in recent history?

Yes, a lot of these laws have changed within the last 10 years, most even within the last 5 years.

What is the majority view on the restoration of voting right in most states?

80% of the states restore voting right after a person finishes their jail time and does parole.

As for the payment of fees and fines, depending on what they are, it could take a lifetime for these to be paid off.  The more serious the crime, the higher the fines.

Was Bloomberg wrong to pay the fees and fines of ex-convicts to help them restore their voting rights?

Considering that I am of the view that when it comes to the election of the President, I personally believe that all 50 states should have the same laws.  For the voting of the President, I think that it is wrong for one state to have one set of laws and a different state to have a different set of laws.

Since 80% of the states restore voting rights after a person completes their jail time and parole, I personally think that Florida is an outlier in this area.

On the other hand, 11 states require payment of fees (and going before a judge or governor pardon) in order for voting rights to be restored.  The fact that Bloomberg donated $16 million to just Florida, as opposed to $1 million (at least) to each of these 11 states would lead to the argument that it was a campaign donation and/or buying of votes and/or influencing of voters.

Summary

I hold the belief that voting for the President should be the same in every state.  The first ballot should be cast at exactly the same time in every state and the last ballot should be counted at the same time in every state.

If the Polls open at 8 am in New York, they should open at 4 am in California.  If the polls close at 8 pm in California, they should close at 12 am in New York.

This whole concept that the polls are closed in New York, but yet California still gets to cast their votes creates an unfair system.

The same is true for when absentee ballots can be accepted after election day.  As it currently stands, some states will complete voting on November 3rd.  Others will complete counting on November 10th, and still, others will be counted until November 17th.   Different states are operating under different rules.

The same is true with the restoration of voting rights.  All of the states should be the same.  But they are not, so the question becomes Bloomberg’s actions.  If Bloomberg donated the same amount of money to all 11 states, then in my view, it would be fine.  But since he only did a huge donation to Florida convicts, that does create a huge interference in the normal election process.

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