Did You Know? Many Citizens with Criminal Convictions Can Vote

In the run-up to the 2018 primary election, we’re posting quick facts about voting to help you get out and go vote, Omaha! 

Today’s fact: Many people believe that being convicted of a felony crime takes away a person’s right to vote forever. The rules on this vary state by state but few states permanently take away the right to vote for citizens with felony convictions.

In Nebraska, citizens temporarily lose their “citizenship rights,” including the right to vote, upon felony conviction. However, the right to vote is automatically restored for returning citizens two years after they complete all of the terms of their sentence, whether that “includes incarceration without parole, incarceration with parole, probation or any combination of sentences.”

This is often called “being off paper” and means that Nebraskans with felony convictions can register to vote after

  • completing the entire sentence (including any incarceration, parole and/or probation) and
  • waiting two years after completing the entire sentence.

If you meet these criteria, you can register to vote without petitioning the court. You will not be automatically registered two years after getting off paper (even if you were registered before), you’re just automatically eligible to register yourself. Find out more about registering to vote.

Misdemeanor Convictions and Time in Custody

Time in custody, including time awaiting trial, does not take away your right to vote (unless you already have a felony conviction and are not off paper).

Misdemeanor convictions do not take away your right to vote.

You can still register to vote and vote by mail/early or in person if you’ve spent time in custody — even if you’re currently in custody — or if you have a misdemeanor conviction. Find out more about registering to vote.

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