In November 2021, Jacob Chansley – better known as the “QAnon Shaman” – was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Chansley pleaded guilty to a felony obstruction charge.
Soon after, VERIFY viewer Kathy emailed to ask if some people convicted of felonies from the insurrection can still vote.
Can some felons from the Jan. 6 insurrection still vote?
Yes, some people convicted of felonies from the Jan. 6 insurrection can still vote, but it depends on what state they live in.
WHAT WE FOUND
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) estimates nearly 6 million Americans have lost their right to vote because of a criminal conviction.
The right to vote is overseen by both federal and state governments. But only states have rules restricting felons from the ballot box. So, where a person lives ultimately dictates whether their right to vote will be revoked because of a felony conviction.
Maine, Vermont and the District of Columbia do not take away the voting rights of felons, even while they are incarcerated, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Each jurisdiction confirms felons can vote even while incarcerated (Maine here, Vermont here and District of Columbia here). Puerto Rico residents also have no voting restrictions based on criminal convictions, according to the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog group.
All other 48 states in the U.S. disenfranchise at least some people convicted of felonies while they are in prison.
But the disqualification to vote doesn’t necessarily extend to when a person is released from prison. The NCSL says 37 states restore the voting rights of people convicted of felonies once they are released from prison or after they served their full sentences, including parole and probation.
In the other 11 states, there are more requirements that need to be met before people convicted of felonies can vote again, according to the NCSL. Some states have an additional waiting period after sentence completion and others require additional action, such as a governor’s pardon.
But most states only restrict the voting rights of people convicted of felonies, not misdemeanors.
While Jacob Chansley pleaded guilty to a felony charge connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Campaign Legal Center noted that most of the crimes people have been convicted of in relation to the insurrection have been misdemeanors. That means their voting status is unaffected in most states.
More than 600 people have been charged in District of Columbia federal court for crimes related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.