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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2019 10:09 AM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Eligible Voters Convicted of Crimes
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to provide eligible voters either incarcerated for a misdemeanor or awaiting sentencing for a felony the ability to perform their civic duty of voting from within a correctional facility.

Voting in democratic elections is one of the greatest gifts given to us by the founders and guaranteed by our constitution. Despite this guarantee, there are individuals in Pennsylvania who face significant obstacles in exercising this constitutional right—individuals incarcerated for a misdemeanor, or awaiting sentencing in a correctional institution for a felony. These individuals are only able to cast their votes by absentee ballot, which can be prohibitive if that individual has no address on the outside to use as a place of residence in the application process.

Therefore, I will be filing legislation that would allow eligible voters who are incarcerated in Philadelphia, whether for a misdemeanor or awaiting sentencing for a felony, to use that correctional facility as their place of voter registration. This would streamline the absentee ballot process and allow greater numbers of voters to participate in our elections. My legislation would also allow the Philadelphia City Commissioners to set up a polling place within that correctional facility so eligible voters can vote where they reside.

Participating in elections is not only a fundamental right, but it’s part of being a productive member of society. When someone has a voice in our communities and is able to make contributions to that community, they become vested in the greater good and will be more likely to have a positive and beneficial impact on their fellow citizens.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.