Restoring Voting Rights of Felony Convicts in Arizona: A Guide to ARS § 13-912 and § 13-905

Feature Article: Restoring Voting Rights in Arizona

Imagine being stripped of your right to vote as a result of a criminal conviction. For many individuals in Arizona, this scenario is not hypothetical. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), a felony conviction triggers the automatic suspension of an individual's voting rights. The consequences of criminal behavior extend beyond penalties such as fines and imprisonment; the loss of the fundamental democratic privilege—the right to vote—can result in profound societal implications. This feature article delves into the issue of voting rights restoration in Arizona, exploring the current provisions for those with a criminal record and advocating for the importance of voting rights for all individuals.

The Current State of Voting Rights Restoration

The ARS defines specific criteria for voting rights restoration based on the severity of the offense and the number of convictions. First-time offenders can have their voting rights restored under ARS § 13-912, while individuals with multiple convictions must wait until completion of their sentence and can then apply for restoration under ARS § 13-905. However, the provisions for voting rights restoration are difficult to navigate and many individuals are unaware that restoring their voting rights is even possible.

Furthermore, despite the existence of these provisions, Arizona has one of the highest rates of felony disenfranchisement in the country. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, an estimated 221,000 individuals in Arizona are unable to vote as a result of a criminal conviction, with Black and Indigenous communities disproportionately impacted. This raises concerns about the effectiveness and accessibility of Arizona's voting rights restoration process.

The Societal Implications of Felony Disenfranchisement

The suspension of an individual's voting rights has significant societal implications. It sends a message that their voice does not matter and their opinion is not valued. Criminal disenfranchisement can exacerbate the marginalization of already disenfranchised communities and create a vicious cycle of civil rights deprivation. Without a voice in the democratic process, individuals are disconnected from the political decisions that directly impact their lives, perpetuating a system of institutionalized inequality.

Felony disenfranchisement also undermines the principles of democratic citizenship, which is based on the belief that all individuals have an inherent worth and dignity and are entitled to equal consideration and respect. The suspension of an individual's voting rights challenges this fundamental belief and sends a message that civic participation is tied to criminal behavior. This is not only a disservice to the individual, but it also undermines the foundation of democracy itself.

The Importance of Voting Rights for All Individuals

Voting is a fundamental right and is integral to the functioning of a democratic society. It provides individuals with a voice in the political process and the ability to shape the future of their communities. As such, voting rights should be protected and safeguarded, not used as a tool for punishment and disenfranchisement.

Restoring voting rights to individuals with a criminal record has the potential to create more engaged and involved citizens. It has been found that restoring voting rights results in reduced recidivism and increased civic engagement. By promoting the restoration of voting rights, individuals can re-engage with their communities and play a role in the decision-making process that directly impacts their lives. This empowerment can lead to a sense of belonging and renewed purpose, benefiting not only the individual but also the community as a whole.


The suspension of voting rights as a result of a criminal conviction is a serious issue that highlights the broader challenges of disenfranchisement in our society. The provisions for voting rights restoration in Arizona are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure accessibility and effectiveness. Voting is a fundamental right that should be protected and restored as soon as possible. By advocating for the restoration of voting rights, we can create a more engaged and involved citizenry that reflects the principles of democracy and civic participation.

Restoring Voting Rights in Arizona-Voting, Felony