Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Delaware

A summary of current felony disenfranchisement policies and legislative advocacy in Delaware.

August 5, 2016

People with most felony convictions have their voting rights restored automatically after completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation. People who are convicted of certain disqualifying felonies - including murder, bribery, and sexual offenses - are permanently disenfranchised. People convicted of certain election offenses are disenfranchised for 10 years following their sentences.

Recent Developments

  • In July 2016, Gov. Jack Markell signed SB 242 into law, removing the financial bar to rights restoration by eliminating the requirement that people who are completing sentences for legal felony convictions pay all financial obligations before regaining eligibility to vote.
  • In April 2013, Delaware enacted the Hazel D. Plant Voter Restoration Act in April of 2013, a constitutional amendment that automatically restored the right to vote to people convicted of certain felonies after completion of sentence, including parole and probation. The amendment removed a previous 5-year waiting period that followed the completion of a sentence, and was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Delaware House and Senate. The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Helene Keeley, noted that the bill’s passage “will empower a new group of Delaware citizens that now have a voice in what happens in their communities.”

Brennan Center Publications

  • Restoring the Right to Vote, Erika Wood (2009)
    • The Brennan Center’s policy proposal for restoring voting rights for citizens with past criminal convictions.
  • My First Vote (2009)
    • Testimonials of individuals who regained their voting rights after being disenfranchised because of past criminal convictions.
  • De Facto Disenfranchisement, Erika Wood & Rachel Bloom (2008)
    • A report on how complex laws, poorly informed officials, and misinformation lead to the de facto disenfranchisement of citizens with past criminal convictions who are eligible to vote.
  • Racism & Felony Disenfranchisement: An Intertwined History, Erin Kelley (2017)
    • A piece examining the historical roots of criminal disenfranchisement laws that today strip voting rights from millions of U.S. citizens.

For more information about the Brennan Center’s work on Restoring Voting Rights, please contact Makeda Yohannes, at makeda.yohannes@nyu.edu.