I Was Convicted of a Felony. Can I Vote?
Voting is a basic American right granted to registered US citizens who meet their state’s residency requirements and are 18+ on or before election day. However, not all Americans who meet these requirements have the right to vote, such as the following individuals:
- Non-citizens, including permanent legal residents
- Some people who are mentally incapacitated, depending on the state
- U.S. citizens residing in U.S. territories (For president in the general election)
But what about offenders? Should convicted felons have the right to vote?
In Texas, people with a felony conviction on their criminal record may have the right to vote depending on the circumstances. Although the Texas Constitution prohibits convicted felons from voting, certain exceptions apply. Once a person "fully discharged" their sentence or got pardoned, their right to vote is automatically restored in Texas. In other words, once their criminal sentence is completed, a felon regains their voting rights.
So, how can you tell if a sentence has been fully completed? It’s not as straightforward as one might think.
Voting Eligibility for Convicted Felons in Texas
A criminal sentence typically includes jail, fines, restitution, and probation or parole. As such, an offender completes their sentence once they meet ALL requirements in their case, not just by serving time in jail and paying fines. You should consider the following information for clarity on what a “final felony conviction” is:
- A conviction on appeal is not considered a final felony conviction
- "Deferred adjudication" is not considered a final felony conviction
- Mere prosecution, indictment, or other criminal procedures leading up to, but not yet resulting in the final conviction, are not final felony convictions
Given these criteria, a convicted felon in Texas CAN vote once they complete the following conditions of their sentence (if applicable):
- Serve full jail sentence
- Complete probation, supervision, or parole
- Pay all fines, costs, and restitution
Another way to restore a felons’ voting rights in Texas is through a Governor’s pardon. If you are currently on probation or parole for your convicted felony but received a pardon from the Texas Governor restoring your civil rights, you may vote.
Many people get confused when they hear their voting rights are “automatically restored” after they fully complete their sentence. But don’t be fooled. “Automatic restoration” does not mean a convicted felon can go to straight the polls and cast their votes after completing their sentence. It means such individuals are automatically eligible to register to vote.
Thus, convicted felons must register or re-register to vote at their current home address.
Questions About Your Voting Rights?
Our criminal defense attorneys understand that you may be confused on your voting rights and how to restore them. That’s what we’re here for. When you reach out to us at (979) 559-3599, we can help provide the answers and guidance you need to take the right steps forward. We look forward to hearing from you!