With election season upon us, it is a good time to dispel a common myth.  People often assume that convicted felons lose their right to vote.  In Michigan, however, that is not the case, so let’s look at the law.

Registering to vote.  Michigan residents charged with a crime – even if jailed pending trial – may register to vote.  For those in jail, they are considered to be residents of the city or township, and address, at which they resided prior to confinement.  MCL 168.492a.  If, after being sentenced, the person is confined, the person is not eligible to register to vote.  Id.  The restriction on registering to vote is actually quite limited.

Voting.  A person who has been convicted and sentenced for which the penalty imposed is confinement in jail or prison, is not eligible to vote while confined Mich. Comp. Laws 168.758b.  This would include those convicted of either misdemeanors or felonies.  Once released from custody, however, those convicted of any crime are free to register and vote.  MCL 168.492a, 168.758b.

The Secretary of State has an excellent website detailing voting rights and how to register and vote.  Visit it here for details.

The Grand Rapids white collar criminal defense lawyers at Willey & Chamberlain are here to answer any questions: (616) 458-2212.