- 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?
- Find information on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi voting rights page.
- Review the Mississippi Secretary of State site.
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