There are many myths about who has lost the right to vote. In many counties, election and prison officials are confused about the voting rights of felons and may even be giving out bad information. Too many felons think that they can never vote again, or that they must wait five years.
Here are the facts:
Under Pennsylvania law, felons who have been released from prison, or who will be freed by the time of the election, are eligible to vote. This is true even if they are on parole or probation. Only those felons who are incarcerated are not allowed to vote. Voting rights are automatically restored upon release from prison.
Who is eligible to register and vote?
- Incarcerated individuals convicted of misdemeanors (must vote with an absentee ballot)
- Individuals who are under house arrest (must vote with an absentee ballot)
- Individuals who are on probation or released on parole
- Individuals being held while awaiting trial (must vote with an absentee ballot)
- Individuals in a halfway house NOT on pre-release status can vote (NOTE: Individuals in halfway houses cannot use the halfway house as their official address for voting purposes.)
Who is not eligible to register and vote?
- Individuals who are incarcerated (in a penal institution or halfway house) on felony charges and who won't be released before the election
- Individuals in a halfway house on pre-release status
- Individuals who have been convicted of violating the PA election laws within the past four years
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is committed to making sure that everyone's right to vote is protected. If you know of an eligible voter who has been in prison and is having trouble registering to vote or being allowed to vote, please have him or her contact the ACLU of Pennsylvania at one of our three offices:
- Philadelphia Office toll-free: 1-877-PHL-ACLU
- Harrisburg Office toll-free 1-877-HBG-ACLU
- Pittsburgh Office toll-free 1-877-PGH-ACLU
For more information about voting, go to http://www.dos.state.pa.us/voting/
The above information only applies to individuals living in Pennsylvania.