Can Felons Vote in Michigan? 

A convicted felon in jail or prison cannot vote in Michigan, but felons' voting rights are restored upon their release from prison.

Felons Who May Not Vote

You lose all rights to vote under Michigan law if you are:

  • In jail or prison for a felony or misdemeanor

  • Serving a sentence

When Felons Can Vote

You can vote in Michigan if you are:

  • Awaiting arraignment (going in front of a judge to formally hear the charges against you)

  • Awaiting trial (this can take weeks to years)

  • Charged with a felony but not convicted

  • Newly released from jail or prison

  • On parole or probation

  • In the process of appealing a conviction

If you are in jail but are waiting for your trial to start, you can vote using an absentee ballot.

You Do Not Permanently Lose Your Voting Rights After a Felony

Many people think they can never vote again after they are convicted of a felony. This is untrue in Michigan. Your voting rights are naturally restored after you serve your sentence.

If you get a reduced sentence, appeal your case, or are released from prison for any reason, you will have your voting rights back.

No Restrictions on Post-Prison Voting

The day you are released from jail or prison, you can vote in any state or federal elections. There are no restrictions on your right to vote after serving your time.

There is no paperwork needed to regain your voting rights, but you need to register or re-register to vote if this is your first time voting in years.

You also have the right to vote with an absentee or mail-in ballot (remember to vote well before Election Day) or to use early voting.

No Permanent Address Needed

If you do not have a permanent address, you still have the right to vote. You can sign an affidavit that explains you do not have a photo ID, and your vote will still be valid.

No Form of ID Needed

Suppose you do not have an official form of state ID, or it expired while you were incarcerated. In that case, you can use another form of acceptable ID. You can use:

  • Any state-issued ID

  • Federal or government IDs

  • IDs from other states

  • Military IDs (these must have a photo of you)

  • Valid student IDs

  • Tribal ID cards

Generally, felony charges will take your travel and passport rights away while you are pending a trial or incarceration. If you still have a valid passport after your sentence ends, you can show it as a valid ID.

You may be required to prove you served your sentence.

The Future of Felon Voting Rights

There has been a movement to change the laws and allow felons the right to vote nationwide.

For now, voting eligibility remains with the Michigan Secretary of State. Their database will match your name with the latest felony convictions to see if you are a match. Until your name is not on the felony conviction list, you cannot vote.

Voter Registration or Re-Registration

You can register online, in person, by mail, or by using the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) if you are overseas but remain a resident of Michigan.

You can also seek special accommodations at the polls if needed.

How Does Michigan Compare to Other States?

In Washington, D.C., Maine, and Vermont, people never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated.

In 21 states, felons lose their right to vote only while incarcerated, and their voting rights are restored automatically upon their release. Those states include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.

In 16 states, felons lose their right to vote while incarcerated and for some period thereafter, typically while on parole or serving probation. Those states include: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In 11 states, felons lose their right to vote indefinitely for some crimes, require a governor’s pardon for restoration following completion of their sentence, face an additional waiting period following parole or probation, or require some additional action before voting rights may be restored. Those states include: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

For Additional Information About Voting Rights

Learn more about voting rights restoration from the National Conference of State Legislatures. You can also contact a civil rights attorney if a polling place is denying your right to vote.