Skip to main content Accessibility

FAQ: Hopkins v. Watson

What you need to know about Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban for people with disqualifying felony convictions who have completed their sentences.

What happened?

  • On Aug. 4, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion in Hopkins v. Watson.
  • The Fifth Circuit held that Section 241 of the Mississippi Constitution, which established a lifetime ban on voting for anyone who committed one of 22 enumerated felonies, violated the Eighth Amendment’s restriction on cruel and unusual punishment.
  • However, on Sept. 28, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit decided to rehear the case.

What are my options if I was unable to vote because of Section 241?

  • Section 241 is still in effect until the district court issues its order declaring it unconstitutional. You are still unable to register to vote until then.
  • Registering to vote when you are not qualified will result in criminal penalties.
  • In the interim, you may request to restore your voting rights.

What happens next?

  • The court granting a rehearing means both sides will argue again whether Section 241 violates the U.S. Constitution.
  • Oral argument is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. A livestream of the argument will be available on the date of the hearing.

How can I stay up to date on this issue?

Photo at top: iStock Photo