Criminal Disenfranchisement Laws Across the United States
Last updated December 7, 2018
Millions of Americans are excluded from our democratic process on the basis of criminal disenfranchisement laws. These laws strip voting rights from people with past criminal convictions — and they vary widely between states. Kentucky and Iowa impose lifetime disenfranchisement for all people with felony convictions — unless the government grants an individual pardon. And they are only 2 of the 34 states that bar community members from voting, simply on the basis of convictions in their past. Navigating this patchwork of state laws can be exceedingly difficult, especially because election officials often misunderstand their own states’ laws.
The most recent state to change their policy is Florida, where on November 6, 2018 state voters approved a constitutional amendment restoring the right to vote to 1.4 million individuals with felony convictions in their past who have finished serving their sentences.
Click on any state for a summary of its current laws on criminal disenfranchisement. Click here for a PDF version of this map. States have a range of policies as to whether citizens with pending legal financial obligations (LFOs) relating to their convictions are eligible to vote, and also as to whether and in what circumstances misdemeanors are disenfranchising. These policies are not reflected in the below graphic.