To the editor,
Those who have a criminal record — an arrest or a conviction — or who have been incarcerated retain their right to vote in Ohio. This is important for the 500-600+ people who were charged with crimes in Athens County annually in recent years (These numbers are from previous reporting in the Athens News, 1-16-2019, and FBI Criminal Justice Information Services).
There are different rules about these voting rights depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. A person charged with a misdemeanor legally can vote, even if convicted, even if in jail. A person charged with a felony who has not been convicted legally can vote. An Ohioan convicted of a felony cannot vote while in prison. But once released, such persons have the right to vote provided they re-register through the local Board of Elections. This means someone with a felony conviction re-entering the community faces a deadline soon: Oct. 5, 2020 is the last day for an Ohioan to register to vote in this fall’s election. This is an important election. On the ballot will be candidates for offices in all levels and branches of government. Readers should not let any criminal record deter them from making their voices heard.