Florida

Legislative Bill HB7089

Purpose: Provide standards for authenticating voting eligibility following a felony conviction by:

  • Defining essential terms left ambiguous by the amendment, including “murder”, “felony sexual offense”,”completion”, and a “term of sentence.
  • Delegating rulemaking authority to DOS to implement a process for authenticating voter eligibility
  • Requiring the Department of Corrections and county detention facilities to provide inmates being released from incarceration with information on voting rights restoration and specified outstanding financial obligations
  • Revising the voter registration laws to clarify that a person’s voting rights, rather than all civil rights, must be restored prior to registering to vote

Common Cause Florida is opposing this bill.

Summary: This legislation is in response to the passing of the 4th Amendment Ballot initiative in Florida, which restored voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who have completed their sentence, with the exception of those who have been convicted of murder or a sexual offense. The ballot initiative was lead by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and had bipartisan support. It was passed with 64% of the people’s vote. The ballot initiative was created to be self-enacting, however, a bill was drafted to address ambiguity. Unfortunately, this legislation creates additional barriers to the ballot box by limiting the number of eligible voters with requirements such as paying off court fees and costs before having voting rights restored.

Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. According to the Advancement Project’s latest report, before the passing of the 4th Amendment, 1,680,000 were disenfranchised in Florida and 21% of Black Floridians could not vote. If passed, this legislation could substantially decrease the number of Floridians who are granted access to the ballot box.

Legislative Bill SB7086

Purpose: Provide standards for authenticating voting eligibility following a felony conviction by:

  • Defining essential terms left ambiguous by the amendment, including “murder”, “felony sexual offense”,”completion”, and a “term of sentence.
  • Delegating rulemaking authority to DOS to implement a process for authenticating voter eligibility
  • Requiring the Department of Corrections and county detention facilities to provide inmates being released from incarceration with information on voting rights restoration and specified outstanding financial obligations
  • Revising the voter registration laws to clarify that a person’s voting rights, rather than all civil rights, must be restored prior to registering to vote

Common Cause Florida is opposing this bill.

Summary: This legislation is in response to the passing of the 4th Amendment Ballot initiative in Florida, which restored voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who have completed their sentence, with the exception of those who have been convicted of murder or a sexual offense. The ballot initiative was lead by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and had bipartisan support. It was passed with 64% of the people’s vote. The ballot initiative was created to be self-enacting, however, a bill was drafted to address ambiguity. Unfortunately, this legislation creates additional barriers to the ballot box by limiting the number of eligible voters with requirements such as paying off court fees and costs before having voting rights restored.

Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. According to the Advancement Project’s latest report, before the passing of the 4th Amendment, 1,680,000 were disenfranchised in Florida and 21% of Black Floridians could not vote. If passed, this legislation could substantially decrease the number of Floridians who are granted access to the ballot box.

 

Georgia

Legislative Bill SR153

Purpose: Restoring the right to vote to individuals with nonviolent felony convictions.

Common Cause Georgia is in support of this bill.

Summary: Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. According to The Sentencing Project, nearly 250,000 people in Georgia are disenfranchised because they have a felony conviction. This bill will significantly lower the number of individuals disenfranchised in Georgia by allowing individuals who have committed nonviolent offenses to have their voting rights restored. This bill will counteract the effect that the over incarceration of people over drug offenses has on voting power, especially in communities of color. This is a great opportunity for Georgia to breakdown barriers to the ballot box.

 

 Nebraska

 Legislative Bill LB83 

Purpose: Eliminating the 2-year waiting period and restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions as soon as they have completed their sentence.

Common Cause Nebraska is in support of this bill. 

Current Status: Hearing in Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee on March 6, 2019

Summary: Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. According to The Sentencing Project, nearly 17,600 people in Nebraska are disenfranchised because they have a felony conviction. This bill will lower the number of individuals disenfranchised in Nebraska by ending the arbitrary  2 year waiting period that is required before individuals who have already completed their fun prison sentence can register to vote. This is a great opportunity for Nebraska to breakdown barriers to the ballot box.

Connecticut

Legislative Bill HB5611

Purpose: Allow incarcerated individuals to be counted at their last known residence instead of the district where their prison is located. 

Common Cause Connecticut is in support of this bill.

Summary: When districts containing prisons count individuals in prison as part of their legislative districts, it gives majority rural and white areas an extra advantage over nearby districts and it dilutes voting power in the districts where incarcerated people have their principle place of residence. This bill will allow Connecticut to join  states that prevent local governments from counting populations in their legislative districts.

Legislative Bill SB53

Purpose: Restoring voting rights to people who are incarcerated.

Common Cause Connecticut is in support of this bill.

Summary: Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. According to The Sentencing Project, nearly 24,300 people in New Mexico are disenfranchised because they have a felony conviction. This bill  will limit felony disenfranchisement to people who are currently incarcerated. It will also ensure that newly released individuals have an opportunity to register to vote. This is a great opportunity for Conneticut to breakdown barriers to the ballot box.

 

Maryland

Legislative Bill HB252

Purpose: Requires the board of Elections to adopt regulations that will facilitate voting in jail for eligible detainees.

Common Cause Maryland is in support of this bill.

Summary: The organization Out for Justice in Maryland is leading the effort to give people with felony convictions access to the ballot box. Many people do not realize that people awaiting trial in Jail DO have the right to vote because they have not be convicted of a felony. However, in many cases, they are kept from voting because there are not procedures set in place requiring jails to help eligible individuals vote. This bill will help eligible Maryland citizens gain access to the ballot box.

 

Texas

Legislative Bill 1419

Purpose: Restoring the right to vote to formerly incarcerated people as soon as they are released from prison.

Common Cause Texas is in support of this bill.

Current Status: Hearing in the Elections Committee Scheduled for March 25, 2019.

Summary: Felony Disenfranchisement has a racist history, it disproportionately impacts people of color and it has no real public safety value. Almost 327,000 people in Texas cannot vote because they are on parole or probation. This bill  will limit felony disenfranchisement to people who are currently incarcerated bringing Texas up to speed with 14 other states that permit people on parole and probation to vote. This is a great opportunity for Texas to breakdown barriers to the ballot box.