Can Felons Vote in Michigan? 

A convicted felon in jail or prison can't vote in Michigan. But felons get their voting rights restored upon their release from prison.

You Do Not Permanently Lose Your Voting Rights After a Felony

Many people think a felony conviction strips their voting rights forever. This is untrue in Michigan. Your voting rights get restored after you serve your sentence. You must re-register to vote and get a ballot.

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

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 hear your charges read)
  • 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
  • Appealing a conviction

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

No Restrictions on Post-Prison Voting

You can vote in any state or federal election on the day of your release from jail or prison. 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

You still have the right to vote if you do not have a permanent address. 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

If you do not have an official form of state ID, or it expired during incarceration, you can use another form of acceptable ID.

  • 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 await 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 need 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. Its database will match your name with the latest felony convictions to see if you match. The state must remove your name from the felony conviction list before you can 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. If you register online, you can register any time up to 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you register any other way, your registration must be received or postmarked at least 15 days before the election.

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

How Does Michigan Compare With Other States?

In Washington, D.C., Maine, and Vermont, people never lose their right to vote, even during incarceration.

In 21 states, felons lose their right to vote only during incarceration. Their voting rights get 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 after that, 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, need a governor's pardon for restoration, face a waiting period following parole or probation, or need more action before restoring their voting rights. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

For More Information About Voting Rights, Call a Lawyer

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 denies your right to vote.

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