All Nebraskans are eligible to vote at 18 years old and all are entitled to exercise that right. In Nebraska, people convicted of a felony lose the right to vote during their sentence.
After gaining employment and securing housing, voting is the next most important civic right of a returning citizen’s reentry, reintegration, re-socialization and inclusion as part of society.
- Felony disenfranchisement is not a crime deterrent, because many people do not realize their voting rights have been revoked until after they have already been convicted. Judges are required to notify people their right to bear arms has been revoked at sentencing, but not their voting rights.
- Whether incarcerated or during the two-year waiting period to vote, people with felony convictions are counted during the census like every other citizen.
- Whether incarcerated, on parole or probation, a person with a felony conviction is taxed like any other citizen- taxation without representation.
- Lawmakers would likely be more inclined to pay attention to legitimate complaints of bias and mistreatment in the criminal justice systems from the people who have personally been impacted. People with firsthand experience are the best voices to knowing what needs improved, and their votes strengthen our criminal justice system.
- Loss of voting rights is a violation of a state constitutional right without cause. Since 2005 when the current policy was adopted, the state has not justified the 2-year wait period. This is a punitive and arbitrary constraint on those who have already fulfilled their obligations to society and confusion about and misapplication of the current law is de facto disenfranchisement. Registration eligibility beginning immediately upon completion of one’s sentence would make a clear rule to follow for members of the public and election officials.
The vast majority of people post incarceration are looking for community or connection after release. Research has shown that voting is a type of prosocial behavior and that prosocial behavior helps decrease criminal behavior. When people are more connected to their community, they are less likely to offend or re-offend.