Attorney General Eric Holder revealed another mission of the U.S. Department of Justice during a recent speech at Georgetown University: the restoration of voting rights to those convicted of felony crimes. Holder asserted that restrictions on voting rights - some that last for the entire life of the person convicted - are remnants of a racially biases criminal justice system of the past.
Felony voting restrictions disproportionately exclude minorities from the voting booth.
Each state has the right to determine who is eligible to vote within that state.
Currently, those who are convicted of felony offenses in North Carolina lose their right to vote while serving out their full sentence, including parole, probation or early release. The County Board of Elections will cancel your voter registration. Once you have served your full sentence, your right to vote will be reinstated. Attempting to register to vote while you are ineligible because you are still completing your sentence is a criminal offense.
You should receive a Certificate of Restoration of Forfeited Rights of Citizenship from the officer who releases you from your sentence. This is your proof that you are again eligible to register to vote. It's not required that you have this, but it may make the process easier for you.
Four states prohibit a convicted felon from ever becoming eligible to vote. Florida, Kentucky, Iowa and Virginia have lifetime bans against voting rights for anyone with a felony conviction.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Holder pushed to remove mandatory minimum sentencing for certain drug crimes at a speech given to the American Bar Association.
Source: The New York Times, "Holder Urges States to Lift Bans on Felons' Voting," February 11, 2014