Restoring Voting Rights: Understanding the Process in Arizona

Feature Article: Restoring Voting Rights for Felony Convicts in Arizona

When one is convicted of felony charges in Arizona, their civil rights are significantly impacted which includes an automatic suspension of their right to vote. In this feature article, we will be exploring the consequences of having a felony conviction on one’s right to vote and the options available for restoring this fundamental democratic privilege in Arizona. The article will begin with a brief overview of the suspension of voting rights on felony conviction, followed by in-depth analysis of the legal provisions for restoration and the societal implications of felony charges.

Overview of Felony Convictions Impacting Voting Rights

Felony charges carry severe consequences, not only for the individual convicted but also for their community and society as a whole. In Arizona, one of the most severe consequences of a felony conviction is the automatic suspension of the right to vote. The suspension is articulated within the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), which further mandates the loss of voting rights until the completion of the sentence, probation, and payment of all fines and restitution. This means that the loss of voting rights can last years, even decades for some people.

The impact of this suspension extends beyond the individual, with implications for society as a whole. Denying individuals the right to vote deeply undermines democratic principles and ideals. For felons, it creates a sense of political alienation, exclusion, and powerlessness – and reinforces their disconnection from civic life, which can lead to recidivism and further exclusion.

Legal Options for Restoring Voting Rights in Arizona

Over the years, several legal provisions have been created in Arizona to allow people to restore their voting rights on completion of their sentences.

ARS § 13-912 for first-time offenders

First-time offenders are allowed to petition for restoration of their voting rights under ARS § 13-912. Eligibility criteria include the completion of their sentence, probation or parole, and payment of all fines and restitution. If the court grants the petition, the individual’s voting rights are restored, and their name is added back to the voter registration list.

ARS § 13-905 for those with multiple convictions

For those with multiple felony convictions, the process of restoring voting rights is more complicated compared to first-time offenders. Under ARS § 13-905, individuals must complete their entire sentence, including probation and parole, and clear all fines and restitution. After this, they must file a petition to set aside their conviction in court, which restores their civil rights, including the right to vote.

Societal Implications of Felony Convictions

The suspension of voting rights is just one of the significant implications of felony convictions; other impacts are evident in housing, employment, and education opportunities. After serving their sentence, felons face severe obstacles in finding sustainable employment and housing, which further perpetuates cycles of poverty and recidivism. They are also excluded from most educational opportunities that require criminal background checks, which limits their chances of attaining higher education.

Many felons experience feelings of marginalization and disenfranchisement, which can lead to a lack of political engagement and further widen the gap between them and society. Therefore, restoring voting rights after the completion of their sentences can help felons reintegrate back into society by allowing them to participate fully in civic life.

Conclusion

Felony charges have many severe consequences, and the automatic suspension of voting rights is one of them. The Arizona Revised Statutes provide provisions for the restoration of voting rights, giving hope to those who feel politically alienated after serving their sentences. Restoring voting rights can help felons reintegrate back into society and participate fully in civic life, which is critical for their well-being and societal reintegration. Consequently, it is vital to advocate for reforms that make voting rights restoration easier and less fraught for those who have already paid their debts to society.

To learn more about voting rights restoration in Arizona and the impact of felony convictions on the right to vote, visit the following link: Restoring Voting Rights in Arizona.