PA 01-11-sHB 5042
Judiciary Committee
Government Administration and Elections Committee

AN ACT RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS OF CONVICTED FELONS WHO ARE ON PROBATION

SUMMARY: With one exception, this act enables felons on probation to vote and run for public office. It does so by limiting a person's disenfranchisement to the period during which he is committed to (1) the Department of Correction (DOC) confinement in a correctional institution, facility, or community residence or placed on parole; (2) a federal prison; or (3) the custody of the chief correctional official of another state or county of another state. A person who is released from prison after serving time for an elections-related felony conviction cannot get his rights back until he is discharged from parole or probation.
The act requires the DOC commissioner, instead of the Judicial Department, to send the secretary of the state lists of felons whose voting rights should be forfeited and those eligible to have their rights restored. It establishes a new procedure for restoring the voting rights of felons who were confined to the commissioner's custody.
It requires the Office of Adult Probation to use available appropriations to inform people on probation on January 1, 2002 of their right to become voters and of the new restoration procedures.
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2002

FORFEITURE OF VOTING RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES

Applicability

Under existing law, felons forfeit their electoral rights and privileges while serving their sentences, which may include parole and probation. The act limits the law's application to felons imprisoned in a federal prison, a state or out-of-state correctional institution or facility, or a community residence.

Procedure

The act requires the DOC commissioner, instead of the Judicial Department, to send the secretary of the state a list by the 15th of each month, of all convicted felons committed to his custody during the preceding calendar month.
As with the Judicial Department's list, the DOC commissioner's list must include each inmate's name, birth date, address, date of conviction, and crime. The secretary gives the list to the registrar of the towns where (1) each felon lived when he was convicted and (2) the secretary believes the felon was registered to vote. The registrars must compare the list with the voter registry list and, after written notice to the felon's last known address, erase his name from the voting list.

RESTORATION OF VOTING RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES

Under the act, felons who have not been convicted of elections-related crimes may have their voting rights restored when they are released from the DOC commissioner's custody.
If, upon release, the person resides in the town where he was registered to vote, the town's registrar must restore his voting privilege upon satisfactory proof that he was released from prison and completed any parole. The DOC commissioner must give a release certificate to inmates who complete their term of incarceration and any parole.
If the person was not registered to vote when he was convicted or moves to a different town upon release, he must prove he (1) is qualified to vote, (2) was released from prison, and (3) has completed any parole.
Felons who are placed on probation after being confined in a federal or out-of-state correctional institution remain eligible to have their rights restored only after submitting proof that they paid all court-ordered fines related to the conviction and were discharged from confinement or parole, whichever applies.

LIST OF PEOPLE ELIGIBLE TO HAVE THEIR VOTING RIGHTS RESTORED

The act requires the DOC commissioner, on the 15th of each month, to send the secretary of the state a list of all felons released from his custody during the preceding calendar month. The list must include the same information as the list required upon conviction (i.e., each inmate's name, birth date, address, date of conviction, and crime). The secretary must send the list to the registrar of (1) each inmate's town of residence at conviction and (2) the town where she believes he was registered to vote.
By law, the commissioner must inform felons in his custody of their right to have, and the procedure for having, their voting privileges restored. The act eliminates a requirement that the parole board provide such information.