Is my right to vote restored automatically upon becoming “fully discharged” or “off papers” from my sentence?
Yes, the right to vote is restored automatically upon becoming “fully discharged” or “off papers” from their sentence. Also, in order to be eligible to vote, a prospective voter must be considered mentally competent. If a person is considered an eligible voter, that person has the ability to register to vote through the same means as all other eligible voters in the state of Texas.
Should I assume I am still on the voting roll?
No, someone previously convicted of a felony was likely removed from the rolls and needs to have proactively re-registered even if they were registered prior to their conviction.
See Tex. Elec. Code § 16.003 (requiring Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) send abstracts of felony convictions to Texas Secretary of State (“SOS”)); Ex. 5, Texas SOS Voter Registration Information (explaining that upon receipt of felony abstracts the Texas SOS compares names to statewide voter registration list and forwards any matches to the appropriate county registrar for investigation); Tex. Elec. Code § 16.033 (local county registrar may “investigate” individual’s eligibility for registration, and in doing so must mail notice to address on registration application; if no response is received within 30 days, or the response is inadequate, the registrar “shall cancel [the] voter’s registration”). The Texas Election Code actually mandates that the local registrar “shall cancel a voter’s registration immediately on receipt of . . . an abstract of a final judgment of the voter’s . . . conviction of a felony . . . under Section 16.003.” Tex. Elec. Code § 16.031(a)(3) (emphases added). The system of sending out notices and providing 30 days to respond, set out in the text, does not involve “immediate” cancellation. But section 16.003 only requires the Texas DPS send the Texas SOS the abstracts of conviction, so I suppose the process is in compliance with section 16.031(a)(3) if neither the Texas DPS nor the Texas SOS actually send the local registrar the abstracts.
This information was written by Louis A. Bedford IV to provide Texans with updated information regarding their rights and the law as they vote in 2022. It is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace legal advice.