1999-01 Affirms the Right of all Registered Citizens of the United States to Vote in Federal Elections

The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry is aware of state and local statues that prohibit an offender to vote in national elections upon their release from incarceration and reintegration into society. These statues exist because of the lack of a uniform standard to guide federal elections throughout the United States and thus lead to unfair disparity and unequal participation in federal elections. Thus in many cases, the basic right of citizenship is denied an ex-offender who has fully completed his or her term of incarceration and is presently an active participant in our society.

State laws -govern the right to vote for citizens domiciled within the state. These laws, however, should never infringe upon the rights of any citizen granted by our United States Constitution. Since the laws are different in various states, the right to vote in national elections, if one is an ex-offender, depends mainly upon where a person is domiciled. In research it appears that a percentage of these laws which prohibit ex-offenders from voting in national elections are in states where there is a high percentage of African American ex-offenders and thus can be construed to show a right to vote based on race or national origin. The National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry opposes any such law or restriction that would disenfranchise any person based on race, religion, or previous condition of servitude.

Therefore, the National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry will actively support a uniform standard for participation in national elections to be enforced throughout the United States and its voting territories. The participants of the National Convocation are urged to make any discrepancies known to their local and state officials and their National Congressperson and Senators. The Steering Committee of the National Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry will; upon recommendation and review, act on behalf of the National Convocation to openly voice opinion and express support for national legislation which will enact uniform standards to protect the rights of ex-offenders to vote in all national elections.