Louisiana is found in the southern region of the United States. It is the 25th most populous state. Its capital is Baton Rouge but its largest city is New Orleans. The most notable thing about Louisiana is that it is the only state in the United States divided into political subdivisions called parishes. Parishes are the equivalent of counties in other states.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections is comprised of three departments namely the Office of Juvenile Justice, Public Safety Services and Corrections Services. As of date, there are around 36,000 offenders serving their sentence in Louisiana. However, not only 36,000 are serving their sentence in the state correctional facilities. The facility of the state can only house around 19,000. Hence the rest of the offenders are housed in private or parish facilities.
Law experts claim that felon enfranchisement is enshrined in the Constitution. Gillian E. Metzger of the Columbia University of Law says that the Congress has the power to enfranchise felons as stated in Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment and Section Two of the Fifteenth Amendment.
Can felons vote in Louisiana?
As provided in Louisiana laws, the following individuals are unable to exercise their right of suffrage: (1) those currently incarcerated; (2) those on parole; and (3) those on probation.
But as soon as the convict finishes his sentence and is released upon final discharge, his or her political and civil rights are automatically restored. However, in order to exercise the right of suffrage, the convict must apply for registration.
According to reports, more than 700,000 people in Louisiana were barred from voting during the 2016 elections. These individuals were prohibited from voting because they were former convicts or currently serving parole and probation. Hence, a case was filed against the State in order to restore their right of suffrage.
The aforementioned case proves that felon disenfranchisement is counter-productive to the reintegration of the convicts into the society.
How can felons restore voting rights in Louisiana?
In order to restore their voting right, former convicts must again apply for registration. Registration can be made online, personally or by mailing. In order to register for election, an individual must:
- Be an American Citizen
- Reside in Louisiana
- Be at least 17 years old by the time he registers and 18 years old at the time of the Election
- Not be incarcerated for an offense