Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)

Voices of the Peninsula: Everyone has a right to vote

It’s important that anyone who wants to vote be able to get that opportunity.

By Alex Koplin

What rights do people who have been involved with the legal system have when it comes to voting? Alaska has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country. Statistically, this means that 67% of all people released from prison will end up back in prison within three years.

If a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor in Alaska, they can vote regardless if you are in or out of prison. If they are incarcerated during the election, they will need to apply for an absentee ballot.

If someone has been convicted of a felony that involves moral turpitude, (manslaughter, sexual assault, burglary, arson, etc.) they must complete their sentence, complete their probation/parole and have been unconditionally discharged and then they may register to vote.

It is interesting to see that all states have different criteria to vote for people who have been incarcerated.

In the United States there are four different categories for voting for people who have been incarcerated. In Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., all citizens can vote in prison, regardless of conviction status. In 21 states they are allowed to vote after being released from prison. In 16 states (Alaska), they get voting rights back after they have served their time and completed the conditions of parole/probation. In 11 states there are a number of stringent barriers that make it almost impossible to gain voting rights again.

It’s important that anyone who wants to vote be able to get that opportunity. In borough and city elections the voter-turnout is below 30%. Wouldn’t it be great to see as many people as possible vote? That is another way we can show we are a healthy society. Remember your vote counts and your voice matters.

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes.

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