OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. George Young is sharing his response from the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, clarifying voting rights for those who have been convicted of felonies and for those participating in drug programs. He said given the recent discussions on voting rights at both the national and state levels, and the fact that those rights were clearly under attack, the issue was particularly relevant.
“While I believe it is common knowledge that Oklahoma allows those who have been guilty of a felony can regain their right to vote after their total sentence has been discharged, I think there’s still some confusion about when, exactly, that individual is eligible to register to vote in regard to commutations,” said Young, D-Oklahoma City. “I’m also aware there’s some confusion about how participating in drug court could impact that right, so I requested an attorney general’s opinion on these two issues.”
Young’s specific questions were:
In response, the official opinion of the attorney general stated that a person convicted of a felony is eligible to register to vote, in respect to that conviction, only after they have fully served their sentence of court-mandated calendar days, including any term of incarceration, parole or supervision. The opinion also stated that a convicted felon whose sentence is commuted is eligible to register to vote so long as the commutation results in the sentence being “fully served,” but whether an offender’s sentence is fully served after commutations depends on the terms of the commutation.
Addressing Young’s second question about the impact participating in drug court might have on eligibility to register to vote, the opinion stated that mere participation in a drug court program would not affect the participant’s eligibility to register to vote. Furthermore, if an offender completes the drug court program and the criminal charges are dismissed, there is no effect on the offender’s eligibility to register to vote because there has been no conviction.
“If we believe that one of the goals of our criminal legal system is to help individuals become engaged, productive citizens, understanding their rights to participate in the electoral process is an important part of that discussion,” Young said. “I appreciate the attorney general’s response on these questions as we seek to provide clarity on these issues.”
For more information, contact: Sen. George Young at 405-521-5531 or George.Young@oksenate.gov