Texas is found in the south central part of the United States of America. It is the second largest state in the country in terms of population and area. It is also known as the “The Lone Star State” and is surrounded by Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the Mexican States of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. The capital of Texas is Austin but its largest city is Houston.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the government agency charged with the control and management of the offenders incarcerated in state jails, state prisons and private correctional facilities. It is also charged in providing funds for the supervision of individuals under parole and probation.
In Texas, felons are not allowed to vote while serving their sentence. This is based on the Social Contract Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau. In this contract, the general will of the people is expressed through the Sovereign. The Sovereign, in turn, creates laws which people must abide by. Failure to abide by the laws will result into ineligibility of some of the rights provided by the Sovereign. However, felon-voting rights advocates argue that this is not good for democracy.
Can felons vote in Texas?
Individuals finally convicted of a felony are not allowed to vote in Texas. Those who are on appeal for their conviction, deferred adjudication and merely indicted, prosecuted or undergoing similar criminal procedures may still vote.
The Secretary of State of Texas weekly receives data from the Texas Department of Safety (DPS) with regard to final felony convictions. Upon matching the data with the list of registered votes this is forwarded to the proper country for immediate action. Afterwards, the department sends a written notice of assessment and warning that such individual’s election registration may be cancelled upon failure to respond within 30 days.
According to Texas Election Code, a felon can again be eligible to vote upon completion of his or her sentence. He or she must also be done with his term of parole, probation, incarceration or supervision.
Aside from the right of suffrage, felons finally convicted in Texas also cannot hold public office, serve as jury in court and own or bear firearms.
How can felons restore their voting rights in Texas?
As aforementioned, as soon as a felon finishes his term, his right to vote is restored. The former felon must have been either: (1) fully discharged from their sentence or (2) fully pardoned and released from their ineligibility to vote. The following are the steps an individual must take in order to restore their voting rights in Texas:
- He or she may then obtain an application to vote from the Secretary of State’s office, County voter’s registrar’s office, Post office, Public library and nearest high school.
- After completing of the form, it can be filed with the County Tax Assessor, County Clerk or County Election Administrator.
- A proof of registration will be sent to the individual after successfully registering within 30 days. A new certificate is also issued every two years to a voter who has not changed their residence.
Felon Disenfranchisement is a problem in the United States. However, there are those states such as Texas which allows the felon to vote after the completion of his sentence. Former felons who wish to vote again must again register to exercise his or her right of suffrage.