Can a Felon Vote in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico still has a complicated relationship with the United States as far as its statehood is concerned. From its appropriation in 1898 until today, it still remains as an unincorporated and unrecognized territory of America.

With a population of over 3.4 million, they have a surprisingly low crime rate at 0.35%. Moreover, most of the crimes in Puerto Rico are firearm and drug-related.

Puerto Rico, as a part of the United States, is bound to exercise the same democratic principles. Thus, the state must place its trust in its rehabilitative institutions to reform felons and re-instill the value of democracy within them.

Can Felons Vote in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico, like two other states of America, namely, Vermont and Maine, follows the same felon voting law. They allow incarcerated felon to cast their votes as part their political stance to recognize fundamental rights of inmates.

However, as an unincorporated part of the United States, all Americans in Puerto Rico are broadly disenfranchised during national elections. They can only take part in the election of delegates for the Presidential primary.

In the selection of delegates, over 6,000 inmates are allowed to voice their political opinions and cast their votes. With the dwindling power of Puerto Rico in affecting the US Presidential election, the prison becomes a potent political institution.

Their unique felon voting law takes greater effect during local elections where the Congress allows Americans to vote for their governor. It is during this time when the voting power of 6000 inmates is truly recognized.

How Can Felons Restore Voting Rights in Puerto Rico?

Since incarcerated felons, as well as those on probation and parole, are allowed to vote in Puerto Rico, they have no laws for restoring voting rights. They are firm believers that disenfranchisement is a suppression and alienation of civil liberties.

Nonetheless, they have several requirements before a person can vote in elections, namely,

  • Accomplish a voter’s registration form in Puerto Rico at least two months before the elections
  • Present documents attesting that one is of legal age and a resident of Puerto Rico
  • Submit the accomplished form along with the necessary documents to the Permanent Registration Board in Puerto Rico

Sources

http://ww2.ceepur.org/es-pr/Paginas/default.aspx

https://www.usa.gov/state-government/puerto-rico

http://www2.pr.gov/Pages/default.aspx

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