Did you know that your criminal conviction does not automatically bar you from voting in Pennsylvania? Yes, you may vote in Pennsylvania if you have a criminal record.
Due to the over-policing of communities, many Black Pennsylvanians live with colorful backgrounds, which means limitations to the ballot box based on criminal records will have a disparate impact on the Black population. In years prior, people with convictions were automatically disenfranchised from voting, causing the widespread belief that people could not vote if they were felons or people with a criminal record.
Since 2000, the law has changed regarding the ways people with criminal convictions can access the ballot box. In Fact, in Pennsylvania, as long as you are not currently serving time for a crime and have not been convicted of an election-related violation in the past four years, you can vote in Pennsylvania.
This means if you are in the local jail waiting for trial, returning home from a sentence, or even on parole, you may vote in Pennsylvania.
In Fact, it is estimated that over 30,000 votes are abandoned every year in Pennsylvania because people in the local jails are not aware they have the right to register and vote in Pennsylvania.
You May NOT Vote in Pennsylvania if
- You are currently serving a sentence of incarceration
- You are in a community or alternative correctional facility for a felony conviction on pre-release status
- You have a conviction for violating any provision of the Pennsylvania Election Code within the last four years.
It is best for you to speak with your probation and parole officer to understand your status, especially if you have stacked sentences or are under a formal supervision release due to covid-19.
Please note this information is for Pennsylvania voters only. Other states permit voting with a criminal record. Please visit https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/felon-voting-rights.aspx for more details.