Voting is one of the most important rights we have as American citizens, giving us the power to voice our beliefs and participate in our democracy to elect lawmakers who represent our ideas. Now that the midterm elections have come and gone, the presidential election will take place in less than two years. However, many people believe that they are unable to vote because of a felony conviction on their criminal record.
Fortunately, Ohio is one of 14 states which allow ex-felons to vote once they have served their sentence or released from prison. Felons are also permitted to vote if they are on parole or probation. On the other hand, if a felony involved voter fraud or another electoral matter, a felon loses his/her voting rights.
Anyone who is charged with a felony without being convicted—waiting for trial—have the ability to vote as well, even if they are currently in custody through the use of absentee ballots. In addition, those convicted of misdemeanors do not lose their voting rights, even if they are in jail—unless the misdemeanor becomes a felony.
Upon release or after you serve your sentence, a felon’s voting rights are not automatically restored. According to Ohio law, they have 30 days before a scheduled election to re-register. Felons can register by mail and in person to the county Board of elections office. They can also submit their voter application to a state BMV deputy registrar location, country treasurer office, public library, or public high school or vocational school.
Having the right to vote is why it is important for you and your criminal defense lawyer to either avoid a felony conviction by having the case dismissed or the charges reduced to a felony or mitigate the penalties you have to serve. At Patituce & Associates, our Cleveland criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and future if you are facing felony charges. Even if you have been convicted, we can help you restore your voting rights and possibly get your criminal record expunged.
If you have been charged with a felony in Ohio, contact us and schedule a confidential consultation today.