Texas Voting Rights for Felons
Felony disenfranchisement is a topic of concern for many states in the United States. State governments make their own laws on the issue of convicted felons and their right to vote as there are no federal provisions. Some states give felons the chance to vote after they are released from prison while others require them to complete probation and parole. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow people serving jail time to vote while still in prison ((Nonprofit Vote). Other states such as Colorado and Ohio and D.C. allow felons to vote automatically upon their release from prison. Texas, Alaska, and Arizona among others, allow felons to vote after completion of jail terms as well as probation or parole. In other states, matters are much more complicated as individuals have to petition to get their voting rights back. These states include Iowa, Alabama, Kentucky, and Nevada. In the state of Texas, voting rights for those locked up, on parole and ex-convicts are outlined in the 1997 law (Champagne et al.).
Those currently incarcerated and those on parole cannot vote until they complete their sentence and probation or parole. However, ex-convicts who are done with their parole can resume voting. I agree with the voting laws in Texas about convicted felons. Voting is both a right and privilege that the residents of a country and state enjoy. When a person is convicted of a crime, they have many of their rights and privileges taken away from them as a consequence of their actions. Voting is one such privilege that convicted felons should not be allowed to enjoy. People serving jail time should, therefore, have their right to vote suspended until they have been cleared. The same goes for those on probation or parole. They should be able to prove themselves reformed and ready to abide by the rules of the state. However, as soon as they finish their terms and probations, ex-convicts should automatically regain their right to vote as they are assumed to be thoroughly reformed.
The position I have taken concerning voting rights means that things will remain the same for convicted felons, those on parole or probation as well as ex-convicts. The incarcerated and those on parole will not benefit at all from my position, but I believe that it is the right thing to do. In the state of Texas, minority groups make up the bulk of those serving time in prison (Champagne et al.). The minorities, therefore, suffer disproportionately from felon disenfranchisement. My position will affect many candidates for various offices as well as those already holding offices. During the 86th legislative session of 2019, House Bill 1419 was introduced that will allow convicted felons to vote, provided that they are not in prison (Leighton). Those on probation, parole or other sentences would thus be eligible to vote. If this bill is passed, it would have a political impact especially for minority groups who would present more voters at the polls.
The two things I would do to take on the political process to ensure that felon voting rights remain as they are is to lobby my legislator and others not to pass House Bill 1419. A convicted felon should complete their sentence; be it jail time or parole, before they can be allowed to vote again. The issue of felony disenfranchisement is one that should be taken very seriously (Klumpp et al. 43). The laws in the state of Texas are quite fair. However, states like Nevada, Wyoming, and Iowa should ease their regulations and allow for convicted felons to automatically regain their right to vote after completion of their sentences. Texas should implement reforms in the judicial system that has a disproportionate number of minorities convicted and imprisoned.
“Voting Rights for Ex-Offenders by State.” Nonprofit Vote. 10 June 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nonprofitvote.org/voting-in-your-state/special-circumstances/voting-as-an-ex-offender/Champagne, Anthony, and Edward J. Harpham. Governing Texas. WW Norton, 2013.
Klumpp, Tilman, Hugo M. Mialon, and Michael A. Williams. “The voting rights of ex-felons and election outcomes in the United States.” International Review of Law and Economics59 (2019): 40-56.
Leighton, Heather. “Convicted felons on parole could vote if Texas bill passes. These are the potential voter demographics in Harris County.” Rice Kinder Institute for Public Research. 15 April 2019. Retrieved from https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2019/04/15/convicted-felons-voting-texas-change-politics