Progress in Reforming Felony Disenfranchisement Laws

"As Table 1 noted, there have been several significant changes in state disenfranchisement policies over the past decade. Most notably, Delaware removed its five-year waiting period for most offenses in 2013 and South Dakota began disenfranchising felony probationers in 2012. Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa re-enfranchised all state residents who had completed their sentences by executive order on July 4, 2005 – though that order was then reversed by his successor, Governor Terry Branstad, in January 2011. In 2016 the Alabama legislature eased the rights restoration process after completion of sentence for persons not convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude.” Other states have also reduced disenfranchisement through streamlining restoration of rights or re-enfranchising certain groups of individuals with felony convictions. For example, both Rhode Island and Maryland now restrict voting rights only for those in prison as opposed to all individuals currently serving a felony sentence, including those on probation and parole. And in 2016, California restored voting rights to people convicted of a felony offense housed in jail, but not in prison."


Christopher Uggen, Ryan Larson, and Sarah Shannon, "6 Million Lost Voters: State-Level Estimates of Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 2016" (Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project, October 2016), p. 12.