Voting eligibility has been one of the most hotly contested topics throughout our nation’s history. The country heavily encourages citizens to exercise their right to vote in important elections and often receive a sticker that demonstrates their pride in going out to vote for the politician representing their beliefs.
However, while there are not as many limitations on gender and races these days, the same cannot be said for those with criminal convictions. Each state has different voting restrictions for those who are imprisoned, on parole or on probation. Understanding Texas’ voting restraints can help you avoid further punishment if you are currently dealing with criminal charges.
The consequences of voting illegally
Recently, a 43-year-old Texas woman made national news by receiving a five-year prison sentence for voting in the 2016 presidential election. She previously served another five-year sentence for tax fraud and was living at home on probation. When her mother encouraged her to vote, she did not read the small print that clarifies it is a second-degree felony to vote while ineligible. Texas is 1 of 18 states that forbids those in prison, on parole and on probation to vote in elections.
On top of receiving the five-year prison sentence, the woman now faces separate charges for violating her probation, lost her bank job because of the negative publicity and her children now refuse to vote when they grow older as they’ve lost trust in the system.
When can I vote again?
While Texas is strict on allowing voting rights to convicted felons, they do allow these people to vote once their service is complete. After your probation period is over, you might need to re-register to vote and update your status and avoid potential misunderstandings.
This demonstrates the importance of fully knowing what your probation fully restricts you from doing. While some violations are obvious such as breaching physical parameters, failing to pay fines or skipping court ordered rehabilitation programs, even acts considered normal such as voting can result in some serious penalties. It is crucial to obtain legal assistance to get a full understanding of what can violate your probation and avoid any further consequences.