Felon vote fraud
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- 1 Ineligible felons voting
- 2 Trends
- 3 Registrations of convicted felons
- 4 State laws
- 5 References
In the past, most states entirely disenfranchised those with a felony conviction on their record from voting. However, as of October 2008, only two states (Kentucky and Virginia) permanently and totally disenfranchise convicted felons.
Most states still have some limitations on the voting rights of felons.
- Eight states have means by which a disenfranchised felon may regain his or her voting rights.
- In twenty states, a convicted felon is automatically re-enfranchised after the completion of their sentence; however, this does not include parolees and those sentenced to probation and or extended supervision.
- In five states convicted felons on probation may vote, but not those on parole.
- Thirteen states and the District of Columbia restore voting rights to both parolees and probationers.
- Only two states allow felons serving time in prison to vote.
Ineligible felons voting
A study conducted by the Florida Sun Sentinel in late October 2008 found:
- More than 65,000 ineligible and duplicate voters on Florida's registration rolls.
- 600 dead people on the list.
- 32,000 multiply-registered voters.
- More than 33,000 convicted felons who should not be eligible to vote.
- In the final five weeks before voter registration closed Oct. 6, Florida added more than 2,600 ineligible felons to the rolls.
- See also: Vote fraud in Tennessee
Jason Booher, Administrator of Elections in Sullivan County, Tennessee, said in October 2009 that "information given to him by state election officials indicates about 100 felons fraudulently registered, are registered still, and voted in the county — some going back as far as the early 1960s."
- See also: Vote fraud in Texas
In September 2009, a Brooks County grand jury indicted three convicted felons on charges they illegally cast ballots in a 2008 school board election in Progreso, Texas. Illegal voting is a third-degree felony carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The cases will be tried in Brooks County.
The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office has opened a separate investigation into similar alleged improprieties in the Hidalgo’s November 2008 municipal elections.
- See also: Vote fraud in Virginia
Bonnie Nicholson was charged on October 1, 2009 with three felony charges and one misdemeanor charge relating to acts taken in the 2008 election. Nicholson is said by authorities to have knowingly falsified her voter registration application saying either she had not been convicted of a felony, or if she was convicted of a felony, her voting rights were restored. Nicholson cast a vote with the knowledge that as a felon, she was not legally entitled to do so, according to the indictment.
- See also: Vote fraud in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board announced in September 2009 that it had identified up to 195 felons who may have illegally voted in the November 2008 presidential election. The agency said it will give names to district attorneys for further investigation and prosecution by October 9, 2009. In Wisconsin, it is a crime for felons under state supervision, including those on probation and parole to cast ballots. The state's election authority identified the felonious voters by comparing the list of those who voted in November 2008 election against a list of felons on state supervision.
In a 2001 Report from the Ford-Carter Commission on National Election Reform, about one-third of felons eligible for restoration of voting rights (about 700,000 people) face some minimal barrier or complication for reinstatement (e.g., filing a legal document formally requesting restoration). Some states like Iowa that allow felons who complete their parole and sentence must apply to the Governor to apply for restoration of civil rights. Some state laws have defined that restoration of voting rights are treated like an outright pardon. Virginia and Kentucky are the only two states that mandate permanent loss of voting rights for felons. However, restoration of voting rights can be accomplished only through an gubernatorial pardon or a successful petition for restoration of rights.
The Ford-Carter Commission also reported that the impact of permanent disqualification of felons in Kentucky, Virginia, and briefly in Florida was considered in their opinion to be "striking." The only states with African American disfranchisement rates that exceed the rates in permanent disfranchisement states is Maryland with 7.6 percent in Maryland. Maryland is one of a handful of states that disqualify felons from voting during the term of their probation or parole. In states with small African American populations and lifetime disqualification like Iowa and New Mexico, disfranchisement rates for black males exceed 40 percent.
The impact of the separate provisions for felony disqualification can be seen in estimates of the effect of recission. Repeal of permanent disfranchisement would reduce the number excluded from the electorate on account of felony convictions by about a third. Repeal of disfranchisement during probation and parole would have somewhat larger effect, mostly because it is current policy in more and larger states. Repeal of both provisions would benefit white and other felons a little more than blacks. Overall, felony disfranchisement rates would fall to just 0.6 percent, about 1.2 million people, were disqualifications imposed only upon felons in current custody. Felony disfranchisement rates would remain at 2.5 percent for blacks, well above the felony disqualification rate for whites and others under current law, 1.5 percent. Nearly 7 percent of black Americans cannot participate in the electoral process because of felony convictions. Because 95 percent of felons are male, the felony disfranchisement rate for black men is almost double. The Ford-Carter commission report stated that the enforcement of a permanent disqualification for felony conviction is a difficult administrative task. Felons are easily identified for as long as they remain in the justice system. Once discharged, they cannot as readily be barred from participation in the electoral process. The 2000 Florida recounts demonstrate, enforcement is especially difficult, if not impossible, when felons relocate to a state that denies voting rights to felons indefinitely.
Registrations of convicted felons
NOTE: The following pages do not host complete information and records regarding registered felons. Please click on the appropriate state to find how many registered felons are voting or further on this page, find out what a given state's law is with respect to the voting rights of convicted felons.
Every state has different laws on the voting privileges of convicted felons. The following lists are organized from the states with the most restrictive laws, to those with the least restrictive.
The following states have declared that convicted felons cannot vote, and may not have their voting privileges restored:
In the following states, voting privileges for convicted felons are not restored automatically upon completion of their sentence, but there are processes by which a convicted felon may regain their voting privileges:
When sentence complete
The following states allow felons who have completed their sentences to regain voting privileges, but not those on probation or parole:
Felons on probation may vote
The following states allow felons on probation to vote, but not those on parole.
Probationers and parolees may vote
The following states and the District of Columbia allow all felons released from prison to vote.
The following states allow all convicted felons, whether in prison, on parole, or on probation, voting privileges.
- ACLU- State Legislative and Policy Reform to Advance the Voting Rights of Formerly Incarcerated Persons
- Sun-Sentinel, "Florida voting rolls contain dead people, duplicates, ineligible felons", October 29, 2008
- Kingsport Times-News, "Sullivan Co. Elections administrator says felons are registered, have voted; wants DA to prosecute", October 13, 2009
- The Monitor, "Three indicted on charges of illegal voting in Progreso", September 22, 2009
- Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Louisa woman indicted in voter fraud", October 1, 2009
- Associated Press, "Wis. board to seek crackdown on '08 felon voters", September 30, 2009
- Task Force on Federal Voting
- The Sentencing Project, "Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States