Whaddaya mean, ex-felons can't vote?

Piggybacking this off of a Pit thread.

Apparently, the state of Florida requires people to ask permission to vote once they’ve been released from jail. I don’t get that. I can understand not having to right to vote while IN jail, but why on earth would someone need to ask to have his or her civil rights restored after … well, after they’ve all been restored?

As I said over there: Their jail term is over; they’ve done their time. Why do they even need to apply to vote?

Florida is not the only state that has this rule. Virginia also does this, as well as Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

In Maryland and Arizona, your right to vote is rescinded after the second felony conviction.

In Texas you lose the right for two years, but it is given back automatically.

Florida and Virginia require an application for clemency to get that right back, I am not sure of the rest of the states.

Link

As for an answer to your question about WHY, there is likely not a factual answer.

I am a Virginian, so I am most familiar with Virginia’s specifics. In Virginia, the issue is a matter of constitutional law. Article II, § 1 of the Virginia constitution provides, inter alia:

The OP asks, “why on earth would someone need to ask to have his or her civil rights restored after … well, after they’ve all been restored?”

The term civil rights does not refer to the right to leave prison, or the “paid debt to society” but rather to “deprivations result[ing] from felonious criminal activity.” See Joseph H. Kelley, Notes, Restoration of Deprived Rights, 10 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 924, 925 (1969). In short, the assumption that your civil rights are restored merely because your prison sentence is over is not accurate, at least in Virginia.

  • Rick