A few years ago I was convicted of a felony and given five years probation. I had a tiny amount of hash with me, and because it is basically marijuana pollen, I believed it to be a misdemeanor if I was ever pulled over. Obviously I was wrong, but that is a separate story. I am writing to get clarification on the terrible voting laws of our state of Texas. I really wanted to vote in the last presidential election, as I have always considered voting an important feature of living in our United States. I was rudely informed at the courthouse that I was not able to vote due to my heinous illegal act. I almost started singing “Elected” by Alice Cooper to her, but I thought there might be a law against that too, so I didn’t. Was I a murderer? An arsonist? A serial child molester? So I ask: what’s wrong with Texas? How long am I supposed to get punished for my mistake? Will I ever get to vote again?
Singing The Texas Voting Blues
I like that 1972 song as well. After all, it was the first election I was able to vote in. Oops. Sorry. I didn’t mean to rub salt in your Texas-sized wound. While I await a return call from my legal eagle consultant, I will tell you what I know. If you have been convicted of a felony, a person must wait five years after their probation or parole is completed before they may register to vote. I am not certain of the logic of this law preventing a person from voting if they received a felony conviction. Perhaps the author of this old law was getting even with a family member who broke the law. Who knows? However, if you received deferred adjudication it means if you successfully complete your probation, you never received a final conviction. Thus you may vote during your probation. As we know, once someone has “paid the price for their crime”, the punishment is supposed to be over. The Texas legislature apparently thinks differently. For a current version of this train of thought, please look up the Texas Surcharge. But, as you say, that is another issue. If you search by: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Zip.aspx, you can locate your local Representative. Writing a brief request to have them re-visit the Texas voting requirements to allow a person who has been convicted of a felony to vote like a United States Citizen is a good start. A follow-up request in two months or so is also recommended. In the event your (our) efforts yield no fruit, when your time arrives, head down to the courthouse and register to vote. In this way you might be able to vote out of office people who you think are doing a poor job of watching out for their constituents. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your opportunity to vote.