Utah is the 45th state to join the United States of America. It is located in the western region of the country. As of July 1, 2016, it has a population of three million people. Also known as the Beehive State, it is surrounded by Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado. Its capital and largest city is Salt Lake City. The name ‘Utah’ is derived from a tribe called Ute which means ‘people of the mountains’.
The Utah Department of Corrections has two main facilities – the Utah State Prison and Central Utah Correctional Facility. The Utah State Prison houses around 4,500 prisoners in eight different facilities. On the other hand, the Central Utah Correctional Facility has a total population of 1,600 male inmates. The Utah State Prison opened in 1951 while Central Utah Correctional Facility opened in 1990.
Utah is one of the fourteen states which allow former felons to again vote after serving their time in prison. Felon-voting advocates assert that felons must also be given the right to vote. They believe that permanent ineligibility to vote is against the Constitution. The Eight Amendment of the Constitution prohibits ‘excessive sanctions’. Felon disenfranchisement, according to some felon-voting advocates, is an excessive sanction.
Can felons vote in Utah?
Felons cannot vote while incarcerated in Utah. As aforementioned, they can only vote once done serving their time in prison.
According to the Utah Code, a felon may become eligible to vote when he is placed on parole or probation or when he has finished the term of his incarceration. This would mean that a felon is only prohibited from voting while waiting for his or her conviction or while incarcerated.
Aside from the right of suffrage, former felons can also enjoy the right to run for public office. However, the former felon can only run and hold public office after 10 years after completing their sentence.
It is also worth noting that those convicted of election misdemeanors also are ineligible to vote while incarcerated.
How can felons restore their voting rights in Utah?
As noticeably noted by felon-voting advocates, restoration of voting rights in Utah is fairly easy. The following are the steps to restore the voting rights in Utah:
- Former felons may register online once they qualify to register for voting again. Through the online registration, one may also change his or her address and political affiliations.
- After successful registration, the individual may proceed to the polling precinct on the day of election carrying with him proof of identification.
However, registration must be done at least 15 days before the election date.
According to felon voting rights advocates, Utah is more lenient in allowing felons to vote again. Former felons who wish to exercise their right to vote again may follow the steps enumerated above.