Many people in Chicago, Illinois want to know if they can vote in the state if they are already imprisoned or held for a felony conviction. This query is generally made during election time. A lot of people are not cognizant of the laws when it comes to voting from jail.
In the United States, the voting rules for incarcerated individuals differ from one state to the other, which adds to the confusion. This is why it is imperative that people educate themselves about the rules. There are specific rules regarding voting after a felony conviction in Illinois.
What is the Law in Illinois?
Illinois has passed its own law for felony convicts pertinent to their voting rights. This law is defined in 10 ILCS 5/3-5. Similar to other states in the U.S., a convicted felon can also vote just like other citizens of the state.
As long as the person is not incarcerated, he or she can register and cast a vote in Illinois. Whoever is serving a prison term cannot vote. If the person is in court and fighting their case, they can vote in Chicago. This includes scenarios where the convict is incarcerated but still fighting his or her case. The same is true if he or she is on probation.
Additionally, convicts on parole can cast their votes in Illinois, as well. In short, if you are not in prison and have not been convicted, you have the right to vote. But, let’s say you are asked to serve the sentence outside the jail. Some examples could be work release or prison furlough. In such cases, you can not cast your vote until your sentence is complete. And, in the case you have served a prison sentence and lost your voting right, you need to re-register as soon as you are liberated from the jail. That will ensure you can successfully vote.
With the new Illinois law, inmates who are imprisoned and waiting for their impending trial but have not yet been found guilty are allowed to vote in person at the prison polling sites instead of via mail. But, all the inmates are not given the chance to cast their votes in Illinois.
Votes from Cook County Jail
The Chicago Reporter notes that on March 28, for the first time in almost a decade, eligible prisoners were enabled to cast their votes personally. They could send their ballots to poll supervisors instead of mailing them. This practice boosts the voting rates.
Cook County Jail is one of the prisons in the country that sanctions physical elector registration and voting. In this, the clerk’s office as well as other volunteers, along with the officials of the county prison, aided in the setting of voting places. These included a chapel for the men and a gym for the women.
The Chicago Reporter reports that in the general elections of 2016, almost 1,200 ballots were secured from the Cook County Jail. This jail has a population of nearly 7,000. 74% are black. Sadly, the other inmates of the state did not get this opportunity.
Professional Help to Secure Your Voting Rights While Incarcerated
If you are imprisoned and denied your right to vote, you can seek professional help. After all, your vote too has a part to play in the future of your nation. An attorney for voting while incarcerated can aid you in procuring your voting rights. You can consult David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-560-7100 if are in the middle of such a legal issue.
(image courtesy of Elliott Stallion)