Incarcerated inmates are banned from casting votes in most US states. But this is never the case in Maine and Vermont. These two states allow inmates to vote from behind prison walls.
While most convicted felons are disenfranchised from voting while serving their prison sentences in other states, Vermont and Maine allow prisoners to vote. At the moment, many US states are beginning to take a cue from these two states by enabling inmates to exercise their rights to vote one way or the other.
Felony Disenfranchisement Laws Banned 6 Million Americans from Voting in 2016
Due to felony disenfranchisement laws, almost six million Americans were unable to vote in 2016. Not all of these were incarcerated persons. Most of them were ex-offenders who had lost their rights to vote, and others were simply on probation or parole.
To this extent, states such as Alabama, Maryland, Wyoming, New Jersey and Florida are beginning to amend their constitutions to enable discharged felons cast their votes one way or the other.
Critics however are not in support of any legislation allowing inmates to vote from inside prison. They argue prisoners may end up influencing how laws they have broken affect them via their votes.
But advocates argue allowing inmates to vote has a rehabilitative effects on their character since they get to connect with the society and shape what goes on in it. One former inmate that voted from behind prison during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is Joseph Jackson.
Joseph Jackson Voted In Prison, Established a Prison NGO, and Now Assists Prison Loved Ones
Jackson’s vote contributed to Obama’s presidential victory. He cast his vote while serving a 19-year prison sentence at a maximum-security prison for manslaughter. The 52-year-old ex-offender was able to vote because he was convicted for his crime in Maine where prisoners are allowed to vote.
Joseph Jackson later established a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in prison. After his release in 2013, Jackson acquired a master’s degree and now assists prison loved ones through Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition.