A big misnomer in Utah is that once a person is convicted of a crime and spends time in prison, he or she is permanently disenfranchised and can not vote. This idea has been perpetuated not only by misinformed people, but by convicted felons as well. Many people who leave prison spend the rest of their lives watching their fellow citizens participate in elections. The eligibility of felons to vote varies from state to state, but Utah recognizes that once a person serves their time, they should have a voice in the political process.
In Utah, an incarcerated person is ineligible to vote. Once he is released from prison and sentenced to probation or parole, his voting rights are restored. If you know of a felon who was denied the right to register to vote, call the county clerk’s office in the county in which they live and explain the law to them.
U.C.A. 20A-2-101.5. Convicted felons — Restoration of right to vote and right to hold office.
(1) As used in this section, “convicted felon” means a person convicted of a felony in any state or federal court of the United States.
(2) Each convicted felon’s right to register to vote and to vote in an election is restored when:
(a) the felon is sentenced to probation;
(b) the felon is granted parole; or
(c) the felon has successfully completed the term of incarceration to which the felon was sentenced.
Utah’s position on a Felon’s right to vote has strong historical roots. One reason Utah allows former Felons the right to vote is that some Utah pioneers were convicted of Felony Bigamy (Polygamy) and the Utah state legislature thought it would be unfair to disenfranchise that population.