The days of blatant and direct disenfranchisement — literacy tests, poll taxes, etc. — might be in the past, but there are still countless Americans who struggle to have their voices heard on Election Day. Indiana’s prison population, which was near 28,000 people as of July 1, 2015, according to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC), is one group unable to cast a ballot. Indiana could be considered moderate compared to the rest of the country in terms of voting rights for felons. According to ProCon.org, Indiana is among 13 states (and Washington, D.C.) that restore a felon’s voting rights after the offender has served their full prison term.
On the stricter side of the spectrum, some states don’t restore voting rights until an offender completes their prison term, plus any parole and/or probation. In 11 states, felons are at risk of losing their vote indefinitely. To the opposite end, two states — Maine and Vermont — allow incarcerated voters to submit absentee ballots by mail.
Ryan Hahn, who is currently serving his third year for an armed robbery conviction at the Branchville Correctional Facility in southern Indiana, said he follows politics more closely now that he’s (in his words) “locked down.”
The Richmond, Indiana, native, who just celebrated his 28th birthday behind bars, will miss out on his home city’s mayoral election this November. Hahn said if he could, he would “most definitely” cast a ballot Nov. 3. He recalls the one time he voted, saying it brought him a sense of pride.