Many people mistakenly believe they lose their right to vote while they are detained in jail or while they are awaiting trial. Anyone who is a resident of Ohio, not detained for a felony and meets other eligibility requirements can vote. This includes the thousands of Ohio residents currently detained in one of 72 county jails and who have not yet been convicted of a felony. Volunteers and advocacy groups can assist detainees with registering to vote by learning the strategies and tools for starting a jail voting initiative.
The U.S. Department of Justice (2013) reported 18,652 people were housed in Ohio’s jails. Ohio’s jail population was 2.5% of the national total.
The ACLU of Ohio’s jail voter initiative seeks to advocate for the rights of incarcerated voters by educating detainees and the public about voting rights in jail and forming partnerships between community volunteers, local jail officials, and county boards of elections. Together, these groups can work to protect the integrity of our voting process by providing registration cards and absentee ballots to people in local jails. These simple actions allow detainees to feel more connected to their communities while incarcerated and will help ensure that every eligible voter can participate in our democracy.
To learn how you can begin a jail voting campaign, please download our tool kit and review the following resources:
and Absentee Voting
Working in Jails
and Ohio Law
|Visit the ACLU of Ohio Vote Center|
- Jail Voting Toolkit (Printable PDF) (Large file size)
- PowerPoint Presentation – 17MB file
- Jail Voting One-Pager: What You Should Know About Jails
- Jail Voting One-Pager: Starting a Program
- Jail Voting One-Pager: Deciphering the Voting Forms
- An Organizer’s Checklist
DISCLAIMER – The information on this website is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive overview of Ohio’s voting laws. Before beginning any jail voting initiative please review the Ohio Revised Code or the Ohio Secretary of State’s website at ohiosos.gov/elections. If you have been disenfranchised and you need legal help, please submit a compliant for review on our Legal Help page.