People waiting in line to vote

Can felons vote in Oregon? Surprisingly, in many cases the answer is “Yes”.

Oregon law provides that a person convicted of a felony keeps all of their civil rights including the right to vote, with an important exception. That exception is that a person convicted of a felony who is in jail or prison does temporarily have their right to vote suspended for the duration of their stay in jail or prison. ORS 137.275 states: “Except as otherwise provided by law, a person convicted of a felony does not suffer civil death or disability, or sustain loss of civil rights or forfeiture of estate or property, but retains all of the rights of the person, political, civil and otherwise, including, but not limited to, the right to vote, to hold, receive and transfer property, to enter into contracts, including contracts of marriage, and to maintain and defend civil actions, suits or proceedings.”

The exception, of course, is found in ORS 137.281, which withdraws civil rights including the right to vote when a person convicted of a felony is incarcerated in jail or prison. It doesn’t matter if the jail or prison time is part of the original sentence or because of a probation violation. It also doesn’t matter if the incarceration is in a work release program, a halfway house, a county jail, a state prison, or a federal institution. If the person is serving a term of incarceration they cannot vote.

So, it follows that a felon can vote in Oregon when:

  • Their felony charge is pending, because there has not yet been a conviction
  • A felony conviction has been entered but sentencing has not yet taken place
  • When the felony sentence is probation and the person is not currently in jail or prison
  • After release from jail or prison, whether on probation or parole
  • After the sentence has been completely served

As with all things legal, your specific circumstances may have a different result than the norm, so it is important to consult with an attorney in detail before taking action such as voting after conviction for a felony. Blog posts are not legal advice. Contact us to schedule a consultation about your specific case.

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