State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: voter disenfranchisement

Voting During and After Incarceration: Past, Present, and Future in New York

By: Stephanie Perry

Recent criminal justice reforms have eased access to the ballot for tens of thousands of New Yorkers with criminal records post-release, but perennial state Senate and Assembly bills to stop the disenfranchisement of people with felony convictions in the first place remain stuck in state Election Law Committee purgatory. So, uninterrupted enfranchisement throughout a felony sentence is currently impossible.

Jailhouse voting may sound unexpected, but a Supreme Court decision protecting the right to the ballot for qualified, incarcerated voters arose from a case originating in upstate New York. In 1972, a group of detainees at the Monroe County Jail in Rochester brought a state case that ultimately resulted in the 1974 decision, O’Brien v. Skinner, that affirms the right of pretrial detainees and others in jail who are not otherwise disqualified from voting to access the ballot. At that time (and today), New York did not eliminate the voting eligibility of people convicted of misdemeanors. Of course, people serving short sentences and those awaiting trial in jail could not easily appear at their polling places to vote.

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Indiana’s Voter ID Law in 2020: College Students Might be the Disenfranchised Voting Population Nobody Expected

By: Emma Merrill

Last year, a group of students at Purdue University in Indiana faced uncertainty about whether they could exercise their franchise rights in local elections. The controversy revolved around Indiana’s strict voter identification law. Julie Roush, a Republican elected as Tippecanoe County clerk in 2018, publicly questioned whether Purdue University’s school ID complied with Indiana’s infamous voter identification law. Roush faced swift public backlash on social media, and Purdue placated Roush’s concerns by adding expiration dates to its student IDs to comply with Indiana state law. Still, incoming Purdue sophomores (who were not issued new IDs last year) may be prevented from using their freshman IDs to vote in fall 2020 elections.

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