The right to vote is a constitutional right that many of us take for granted. It’s been common practice in the U.S. to make formerly incarcerated people ineligible to vote— In some cases, permanently. Needless to say, this is just one of many ways that our systems are made to disenfranchise Black and brown people who are racially targeted by police across the country.
Though we are seeing a positive trend over the last few decades toward reinstating the right to vote for formerly incarcerated people, it varies for each state. And as we know, Texas is notorious for their voter suppression efforts (see: our state officials digging their heels in when it comes to vote-by-mail and having the appropriate amount of county drop-off centers for ballots).
At the Texas Civil Rights Project, we’re committed to ensuring you are armed with information about your voting rights and how to cast your ballot regardless of your record. If you are a formerly incarcerated person curious about your voting rights in Texas, check out the information below! Additionally, we have graphics for you now to download and easily share with your networks.
1. How can a formerly incarcerated person in Texas restore their voting rights?
Residents who have been convicted of a felony must have –
Fully discharged their sentence, including any term of confinement, supervision, or parole, or completed probation; or
Been fully pardoned or otherwise released from being unable to vote.
AKA Off Paper
If a person is considered an eligible voter, they have the ability to register to vote through the same means as all other eligible voters in the state of Texas.
2. What is the voting law when it comes to formerly incarcerated people in Texas?
A person who is convicted of a felony cannot register to vote until they have been pardoned, or they have successfully completed their sentence, including any period of:
Term of Probation, or
3. What about if a formerly incarcerated person is appealing their conviction, what are their rights?
People can still vote while they are appealing their conviction. Those on ‘deferred adjudication’ may also vote because it is not a final felony conviction for voting purposes.
Finally, prosecution, indictment, and similar procedures which have not yet resulted in a felony conviction, are not considered finalized and therefore the individual can still vote. People in pre-trial detention can still vote, as can those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor but not a felony. If that is the case, you have the ability to register to vote through the same means as all other eligible voters in the state of Texas.
If you have any questions or need help with anything else, give us a call at our Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE or visit texaselectionprotection.org!
P.S. Click here to download formerly incarcerated persons’ voting rights graphics to share on your own personal feed.
Julien is the election protection digital fellow at the Texas Civil Rights Project. Special thanks to the TCRP Voting Rights team for compiling this information.