A fundamental right as a U.S. citizen is having your voice heard at the ballot box. A portion of voting-eligible Americans feel a growing disconnect from the political process and don’t think their votes will affect political change. Some American citizens choose not to exercise their right to vote, while others are eager for the opportunity to cast a ballot.
Felony disenfranchisement laws permit state governments to revoke the voting rights of people who have been convicted of a felony. The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit criminal justice organization, estimates that 6.1 million Americans cannot vote because of their past criminal convictions.
Restoring your voting rights
Many people with a criminal record believe they have permanently lost their right to vote. This is true for some states, but not for South Carolina.
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, if you have been convicted of a felony, you lose your right to vote while serving your sentence. However, once you have served your entire sentence, including probation and parole, you are eligible to re-register to vote.
You can register to vote online or in-person at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Social Services and the County Voter Registration & Election Office. To complete your Voter Registration, you must have a valid driver’s license or identification card issued by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, you must provide written proof that you have completed your entire sentence.
Just because you have a felony record does not mean you have to give up your constitutional right to vote. By exercising your right to vote, you have a say in local politics and in shaping your community.