Does a Felony Conviction Take Away the Right to Vote? Yes, No, Maybe.


Many of the people I meet in Jackson, Ridgeland, Clinton, The City of Madison, and all over Mississippi have a misunderstanding about the right to vote after a felony conviction. The Mississippi Constitution lists ten (10) crimes. The specific Mississippi Constitutional Provision is as follows:

SECTION 241, MS. Constitution of 1890:
Every inhabitant of this state, except idiots and insane persons, who is a citizen of the United States of America, eighteen (18) years old and upward, who has been a resident of this state for one (1) year, and for one (1) year in the county in which he offers to vote, and for six (6) months in the election precinct or in the incorporated city or town in which he offers to vote, and who is duly registered as provided in this article, and who has never been convicted of murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy, is declared to be a qualified elector, except that he shall be qualified to vote for President and Vice President of the United States if he meets the requirements established by Congress therefor and is otherwise a qualified elector.

In addition to these ten (10) crimes the Mississippi Attorney General in an opinion listed eleven other crimes that should be added to the list. These crimes are armed robbery, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, larceny, receiving stolen property, robbery, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, unlawful carjacking. These crimes were added because in the opinion of the Attorney General they fell within Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution that prohibited voting after a theft conviction. In total there are 21 crimes that will take away your right to vote.

Mississippi Law states that anyone convicted of these crimes shall not be registered to vote and if already registered their names should be erased from the voter registration book by the county election commissioners. Miss. Code Section 23-15-19 (1972). A Federal Conviction of any kind does not prohibit a person from voting in Mississippi elections.

When I travel across the state I find that “good people can make some bad and sometimes dumb choices in life.” I think at one time or another almost all of us find ourselves in that position. A felony conviction in Federal Court, another state, or for one of the crimes other than the 21 listed above does not prohibit a person from voting. If you fall into this category and you are not listed on the voting rolls you should demand to be put back on the rolls and if the election commission does not comply, then contact a lawyer. People in American fought for hundreds of years for the right to vote and you should not be intimidated, abandon, or ignore the right to vote.

Here is a brief summary of what qualified you to vote in Mississippi:
1. Be a citizen of the U.S.
2. Be a resident of Mississippi and be 18 years old at the time of the next election.
3. Live in the town you want to vote for 30 days before the next election.
4. You must not be convicted of one of the 21 crimes listed above.
5. You can still vote if you have a Federal conviction.
6. You can vote if you have a conviction from another State.
7. You can still vote if you have a Mississippi Conviction other than the 21 listed.

To register to vote you can get registration forms at public libraries, county court houses, community centers, post offices, and other city or county offices. You can also download the forms from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website. The process is easy and takes very little time. Exercise the most valuable right you have-vote.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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