PLBC reminds those with criminal records: You may still have the right to vote

HARRISBURG, Oct. 4 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and the PLBC aim to clarify voting rights for those convicted of crimes or otherwise incarcerated.

"State law is confusing," Brown said. "However, in 2000, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a permanent injunction that permits convicted felons to apply to have their voting rights restored upon release from prison, not after a five-year waiting period.

"Anyone who may be affected by this ruling must register by Tuesday, Oct. 11 to be eligible to vote in the November election."

Oct. 11 is the deadline for all residents to register for this year's election. To be eligible to vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on Election Day and have resided in Pennsylvania for at least 30 days prior to the election. Voters can check their voter status or register online at www.votespa.com.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the following people either charged with a crime or convicted may vote:

  • People currently incarcerated who have been convicted of misdemeanors (can vote via absentee ballot.)

  • People who are under house arrest (can vote via absentee ballot.)

  • People who are on probation or on parole.

  • People who are on parole or probation and living in a halfway house or community corrections center (can vote via absentee ballot and must use previous or future address, not community residence.)

  • People incarcerated while awaiting trial (can vote via absentee ballot.)

Additionally, the following are not eligible to vote:

  • People who are incarcerated due to a felony conviction and who won’t be released before the election.

  • People who have been convicted of violating Pennsylvania election laws within the past four years. 

"The right to vote is the basis of our democracy," Brown added. "I encourage all who are eligible to register this week and let your voice be heard."

 

More information can also be found online at http://bit.ly/ACLUVoterRights.

 

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