Voting in Pennsylvania with a Criminal Record | Ketchel Law - Criminal Defense

Your Rights as a Felon and Voting in Pennsylvania

Voting Rights in PA with a Criminal Record

Can you vote in Pennsylvania if you were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony?

Voting is one of the most vital rights as a U.S. citizen. Many people falsely believe that if you are a convicted felon, you are not able to vote or may not be able to vote for years after you’ve been released from prison.

However, since the court ruled this law to be unconstitutional in December 2000, that rumor has not been true.

Convicted felons have the right to vote. And people who have been charged with a felon, and not yet convicted, also have the right to vote.

Below are the basics of voting with a criminal record in Pennsylvania:

  • The only time a convicted felon can not register to vote or vote, is if they are incarcerated or if they are living in a halfway house or other alternative correctional facility and will not be released on probation or parole until after the next election date. 
  • If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you have the right to vote at any time, even if you are incarcerated. But if you are incarcerated or under house arrest, you do have to request an absentee ballot. 
  • If you are a pretrial detainee and have not yet been convicted of a crime, you still have the right to register to vote and vote, even if you are currently confined to a correctional facility.

Please note, that people who were convicted of violating the Pennsylvania Election Code in the last four years are not eligible to vote.

See the Pennsylvania Department of State Voting Rights of Convicted Felons, Convicted Misdemeanants and Pretrial Detainees brochure for a full explanation.

Answers to Common Questions About Voting and a Criminal Record in Pennsylvania

Can a Person Convicted of a Misdemeanor Vote?

Yes, convicted misdemeanants have a right to vote, as do people currently facing misdemeanor charges. This is according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. You do have to request an absentee ballot in order to vote.

Can a Person Charged with a Crime Register to Vote and Vote?

Yes. If you are a pretrial detainee, you have the right to register to vote, even if the charges include a felony and even if you are currently confined to a correctional facility.

Can a Person on Parole or Probation Register to Vote and Vote?

Yes. You can register and vote, even if you are living in a halfway house.

Can I Register to Vote or Vote in Pennsylvania if I am a Convicted Felon Currently Living in a Halfway House?

Yes, if your sentence is completed and you are on probation or parole. You must vote with an absentee ballot and must use a previous or future address to register to vote, not the address of the halfway house.

Can a Person Under House Arrest Register to Vote and Vote?

Yes. No matter if you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, you have the right to vote if you are under house arrest. You have to vote by absentee ballot, however. Make sure you make your request by the deadline (See below for dates for 2020).

How Can I Register to Vote?

In Pennsylvania, the easiest way to register to vote is online at VotesPA.com.

You can also register by mail, at your County voter registration office, or at a PennDot location.

If registering online, use this Pennsylvania Voter Registration Application online form.

How Do I Vote by Absentee Ballot?

To make a request for an absentee ballot, you fill out the application for the absentee ballot here. Or, you can make the request for an absentee ballot online.

Please note for the 2020 election: Mail-in and absentee ballot applications for the November 3, 2020, general election must be received by your county election office or other designated location by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

Learn more about mail-in and absentee ballots. 

What Do I Need to Know for Voting on Election Day 2020 in Pennsylvania?

  • Primary Election Day: Tuesday, November 3rd
  • Final Day to Register to Vote: Monday, October 19th, 2020.
  • Deadline to request an absentee ballot: Tuesday, October 27th, 2020.

In order to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old on Election Day and have been a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days before the election.

If you have any questions about voting in Pennsylvania, call 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

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