Election Laws Are Governed by State Law
Video Transcribed: Can you vote in Oklahoma after a felony conviction? I’m Tulsa criminal lawyer James Wirth, and I’m answering frequently asked questions, and that’s the question we have today is, can you vote if you have a felony conviction in Oklahoma?
All right, so election laws are governed by state law. So it doesn’t necessarily matter where your conviction is, it’s where you’re planning to register to vote. And in Oklahoma, the law is different than some states.
Some states say, once you have a felony conviction, you can never vote. Other states say that having a felony conviction does not change your rights to vote. And then there are the states that are in between, saying that for some period of time you can’t vote, and then you may be able to.
So for Oklahoma, residents in Oklahoma wanting to register to vote, if you have a felony conviction, you cannot vote for the length of the sentence related to your felony conviction. That sentence includes probation time, as well as jail time. So here’s the relevant statute.
Basically, there are multiple statutes, but they provide that upon conviction in state court in Oklahoma, the court clerk will send notice to the state that it will remove you from the voter rolls. And they’ll keep that voter application information on record for 24 months and thereafter destroy it.
So if your sentence is short and you can fully complete it within 24 months, you may be able to resurrect it before it’s destroyed. Otherwise, you have to start again when it’s over. But let me get to the statute at issue.
It is a Title 26, section 4-101. And what it provides is, persons convicted of a felony shall be eligible to vote when they have fully served their sentence; including any term out incarceration, parole supervision, or completed a period of probation in order by any court. So once you fully serve your sentence, that automatically falls off, you are then able to register to vote again in Oklahoma.
I’ve also gotten calls from people out of state asking that question. And one recently, I believe, it was in Tennessee. And in Tennessee, I believe it was, the felony conviction has to be expunged before you’re eligible to vote again. So we can do an expungement, perhaps if you’re eligible.
For this person, it was a felony conviction in the 1980s. Given the amount of time that’s gone by, it’s eligible for expungement. So we could file to get his expunged here. And then under his state law in Tennessee, he’ll be eligible to vote.
But for those that are in Oklahoma, we have to fully complete your sentence. If you’ve got questions about your particular circumstances and your right to vote, you’re going to want to talk to an Oklahoma attorney. You want to talk to somebody in my office, go to makelaweasy.com.