Thursday, September 24, 2020

How to vote when you are in jail

Happy belated National Voter Registration Day. It’s hard to imagine any election more important than the one that looms just 40 days away. As we all prepare to vote, it’s important to remember that many of our pretrial clients are also eligible and want to vote,* even if in pretrial detention. But the logistics of voting from jail make it tougher for them to do so. You can help by answering their questions and providing the needed forms.

The Kansas FPD is partnering with ACLU of Kansas to get information and materials to potential voters in the jails. We are grateful that many of the Kansas jails, including CoreCivic, Shawnee, Jackson, Sedgwick, Wyandotte, and Butler have agreed to allow Voting Rights flyers (below) to be posted and have let us provide stacks of the forms used to register and to request ballots.

In order to help answer questions from your clients, below is the basic information about who is eligible to vote and when the forms to register and request a ballot must be submitted.

The general eligibility requirements are:

·        U.S. citizen   

·        Kansas resident

·        18 years old on date of the election

·        Completed terms of any felony sentence

·        Not claiming eligibility to vote elsewhere/under another name

·        Not excluded from voting by any court

The deadlines are:

·        Register to vote: postmarked by October 13

·        Request absentee ballot: received by October 27

·        Vote by absentee ballot:  postmarked by November 3

You can find the form to register here and the form to request a ballot here.

Happy voting.

*See Christopher Uggen & Jeff Manza, Voting and Subsequent Crime and Arrest: Evidence from a Community Sample, 36 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev., 193, 212–15 (2004) (research links pro-social activities like voting to desistence in crime; individuals interviewed about losing the right to vote express a feeling of being an “outsider” because they cannot vote; and empirical studies show some correlation between voting and lower recidivism). And kudos to Assistant Federal Public Defender Carl Folsom for finding this article and using it in a recent (and successful?) motion for early termination of supervised release.

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