Can You Vote in Pennsylvania If You’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?
Between recent voter ID laws, rumors of voter fraud and the ever-present concerns about the reliability of voting technology, it seems one of our greatest privileges as American citizens is a source of constant debate, controversy and anxiety. One of the most contentious and confusing aspects of voting rights, though, is the way a criminal conviction can impact your eligibility to vote. The situation is not helped by a lack of consistency in enforcement by both prison and election officials, who often lead many people to believe that convicted felons simply aren’t allowed to vote.
Fortunately for Pennsylvanians, the law allows any felon to vote who has been released from prison, or who will be by the time the election happens. Parole and probation do not place restrictions on voting rights, as the right to vote is reinstated immediately and automatically upon a person’s release from prison. Felons who are currently incarcerated and won’t be released prior to the election are barred from voting.
Voting rights are also extended to certain individuals who are in the criminal justice system. Individuals imprisoned on misdemeanor convictions, people under house arrest and individuals awaiting trial can all vote, but must do so via absentee ballot. People in halfway houses not on pre-release status can also vote, but may not use the address of the halfway house as their official address.
Certain other individuals, however, are prohibited from voting in Pennsylvania. People in halfway houses on pre-release status are unable to vote, as are individuals who violated Pennsylvania election law within the last four years.
If you have questions about how and whether your criminal conviction might impact your ability to vote in Pennsylvania elections, contact the Law Office of David R. Eshelman. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the impact of your criminal record on a range of important matters, including your ability to exercise the right to vote.