New effort to ensure people convicted of crimes in Philly know their voting rights

There’s a new effort underway to better inform people involved in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system about their right to vote.

City Commissioner Omar Sabir said state lawmakers have approved a measure to inform people who are making a guilty plea about their voting rights.

The new initiative makes it clear that “if a defendant is convicted of a felony, he or she is eligible to vote upon release from incarceration,” Sabir said. “Before this addition, this is something that was not included in the colloquy.”

The colloquy is information that must be read to those entering a guilty plea in Philadelphia.

The goal is to make sure people who are returning citizens understand that their voting rights have not been suspended for life just because of their conviction. Pennsylvania law once prohibited people convicted of a felony from voting for five years after their release from prison, but that is no longer the case. A 2000 Commonwealth Court ruling found that laws banning people convicted of a felony from voting were unconstitutional.

Voting rights also remain in place for those accused of crime and being held.

  • November 6, 2023
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