Voting Rights Restoration for Returning Citizens

  • Returning Citizen are former felons that have served their time and want to restore their voting rights.

    TIP #1: You may still vote using an absentee ballot if you haven’t been convicted of a felony or are still awaiting trial on a felony charge.

  • Check your eligibility for restoration of voting rights.

    • First, check whether you were indeed convicted of a felony. Many Returning Citizens were charged with a felony but convicted of lesser charges.
    • You are still elegible to vote if your conviction was reversed on appeal or expunged or you received a full pardon.
    • If you were convicted of a felony between January 15, 1973 and May 17, 1981, you are elegible to vote. You do not need to have your rights restored, but the Division of Elections will need to verify you were convicted during this period.
    • Convictions before January 15, 1973
    • You are never elegible to vote if you were convicted of the following crimes within the following timeframes:
      • After July 1, 2006: Voter fraud, treason, any degree of murder or rape, certain felonies (involving bribery, misconduct; involving public officials and employees, or interference with government operations), sexual offenses or violent sexual offenses that are felonies where the victim was a minor
      • Between July 1, 1996 and June 30, 2006: voter fraud, treason, any degree of murder or rape
      • After July 1st, 1986: voter fraud, treason, first-degree murder, aggravated rape
  • Get the “Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights” from your local county’s election commission, the Secretary of State’s website, or the TN Board of Probation and Parole.

    TIP #2: Always keep copies of your completed forms along the way.

  • After having completed your full sentence (incl. probation and parole), Tennessee requires Returning Citizens to pay all restitutions and court fees or fines and be current on court-ordered child support. 

    • Find out how much you have to pay.
    • Have a criminal court clerk certify on your “Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights” that you have met all legal financial obligations.
      • Was your trial in federal court? Get a signature from a U.S. Probation and Parole Office.
      • Was your trials in a state or circuit court? Get a signature from the Circuit Court Clerk in that county.
  • Get your probation/parole officer or officer certify that your sentence is complete (incl. probation and parole) and that all court-ordered costs and restitutions have been paid in full. The circuit/criminal court clerk may also certify that you have paid your court-ordered costs and restitutions.

  • Next, deliver your completed Certificate of Restoration application to your local county election commission. Here is a list to help you find your local election commission.

  • Once you have been notified that your voting rights have been restored, it’s time to celebrate and register as a voter!

    See our detailed Voter Registration Guide.

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