Voting is a sacred right in any democracy, and sadly six million Americans have had their right to vote taken away from them because they are either in prison, on parole, on probation, or have not completed their post-sentencing voting wait period, according to Vice News. In fact, some convicted felons have actually been arrested and sent back to prison for trying to vote in elections, even when they were completely unaware that they were violating the law.
There is a lot of confusion these days surrounding felons’ rights to vote across the country. Each state has its own set of laws, and most prohibit felons from voting until they have completed their two years of supervised release after being incarcerated. Recently, a Texas woman with a felony record, who was not aware that she was barred from voting, was sentenced with an extremely high and unusual five year prison term for voting while she was on supervised release. Here in Pennsylvania, our voting laws are much less harsh for convicted felons. In fact, you are most likely eligible to vote today if there was a current municipal, state, or federal election ongoing.
You Have the Right to Vote The Day Your Sentence is Complete in Pennsylvania
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the only people who are prohibited from voting are as follows:
- Anyone who has been convicted of a felony in Pennsylvania, any other state, or in federal court and is serving a sentence of confinement; and
- Anyone who has been convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s election laws in the last four years.
All of the following individuals can legally vote or register to vote:
- Any convicted felon who has completed their term of incarceration;
- Anyone who is serving time in prison or jail for a misdemeanor offense;
- Anyone on parole or probation;
- Anyone under house arrest;
- Anyone living in a halfway house or community corrections center
- Anyone currently under investigation or in jail awaiting to go to trial.
Other Voting Fraud Violations
There is a lot of talk about voting fraud right now, and the federal government’s Justice Department is cracking down hard on those who are suspected of voter fraud. Voter fraud consists of the following offenses:
- Voting more than once in the same election;
- Voting if you have not been a resident of Pennsylvania for 30 days or more;
- Voting if you are not a resident of the United States;
- Voting if you are not 18 years old or older; and
- Intimidation, manipulation, preventing another to vote, misrecording votes, buying votes, and ballot stuffing.
Contact a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Today for Help
Voter fraud is rare, and in the vast majority of cases it is accidental. Unfortunately for those who have been charged with voting fraud, the consequences may be harsh as the extreme penalties typically do not match the benign nature of the defendant’s accident. Whether you need experienced legal help to beat the serious charges set against you, or you just have questions about your eligibility to vote in an upcoming election, the Philadelphia law offices of van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim are here to provide assistance today.