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Can A Felon Run For President?

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Felons struggle to find their way in the world today.

Once they’ve been released from prison and while in prison, felons seem to have fewer rights.

Some states revoke voting rights for felons, even after serving time.

In some states, felons cannot vote on Election Day or through vote-by-mail options.  

When it comes to running for president, convicted felons have no restrictions.


Can A Felon Run For President?

According to the Constitution, felons can run for president.

The Constitution clearly describes the requirements to hold the Office of the President.

The president must be a person who is born in the United States and is at least 35 years old.

The person who runs for office must also be a resident.

The president can hold the office for two terms of four years each.

If a candidate has been in office during another president’s term – as in the situation with Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, term limit rules state that the replacement can only run for office once.

Just because a felon can run doesn’t mean they will win.

The president holds an elected office, so the people of the United States must vote for the candidate.

Voters usually want a person with good character with a crime-free history.

Because Donald Trump and other members of the Trump Organization could be convicted of felonies related to campaign finance and the January 6 Insurrection, many question whether or not he can run for public office again.

He could become a presidential candidate running against Joe Biden in 2024.

What Disqualifies You From Running for President?

The Constitution sets the standards for people who want to run for president.

People who have not yet reached age 35 cannot run for president.

Anyone who wasn’t born in the United States and isn’t a US citizen cannot run for office.

Can a Convicted Felon be Elected President?

As long as the presidential candidate meets the three requirements outlined in the Constitution, a convicted felon could be elected president.

A convicted felon can run for president, but the candidate still has to win the election.

Voters of the United States need to choose this person over the other candidate – who does not have felony conviction.

Has There Ever Been An American President Convicted Of A Felony?

As of yet, no American presidents have been convicted of a felony.

In recent history, many people connected to the executive branch have been convicted of various felonies including tax evasion, perjury, and obstruction of justice.

Keep in mind that impeachment is not a felony, so Donald Trump has not yet been convicted of a felony.

Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, was convicted of income tax evasion in 1973 after he resigned from office.

Agnew is the highest-ranking elected official to have a felony conviction.

He paid a $10,000 fine and had unsupervised probation for three years.

Edward Kennedy considered running for president, but he felt his felony conviction in 1969 would cause people not to vote for him.

A court convicted him of leaving the scene of an accident after he drove his car into a river and the young woman inside of it died.

What Are The State Requirements To Run For Office?

State requirements for elected offices vary slightly. In most states, candidates for all offices must be residents for at least one year.

In some states, candidates must be between 18 to 25 years old to qualify for a state office.

Many candidates must have a voter registration on file in the state where they plan to run for local, state, or federal office.

According to the Constitution, candidates running for The Senate must be at least 30 years old, live in the US for at least nine years, and live in the state they want to represent.

Candidates for Congress must be at least 25 years old, live in the US for seven years, and live where they represent.

How Can A Felon Succeed While Running For Office?

Because candidates for president look to expose their opponents’ weaknesses, felons would struggle to succeed while running for office.

Convicted felons have been found guilty of a crime in court.

In the United States justice system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so the legal system had to have substantial evidence that a crime was committed.

Felons will need to explain what they did and what they learned from their experience in the criminal justice system.

They will need to explain their rehabilitation process and that they will not commit any crimes in the future.

Because criminals have already violated the public’s trust, felons will struggle to gain confidence from voters.

The worst thing a felon can do is claim they haven’t done anything wrong, as it makes the court system look inept.

The United States government has three distinct branches, and anyone running for president should have respect for the way the three branches work to support each other.

Claiming they have been wrongly accused targets the judicial branch, which could cause the candidate to lose votes.

Felons who want to win the hearts of voters need to work with a campaign manager who can craft a strong underdog story.

United States voters love a rags-to-riches story, and they love to see underdogs succeed.

However, if the candidate has committed a crime that harmed retirees, children, or minorities, the chances of winning will drop.

What Kind Of Support Should Be Given To Felons Running For Office?

Felons should receive the same support as someone who has a clean record.

Because felons have a criminal history, they will need to explain how they have been rehabilitated during their felony sentence.

Felons will also need to show that they will not commit any crimes while in office.

Being a felon can make the process of running for office difficult.

Running for office is expensive, and the media helps provide airtime during news broadcasts.

Felons running for president should receive the same free airtime as other candidates.

However, since news organizations often profile candidates, it’s safe to assume that they would showcase the crime and the process that convicted the candidate.

Can A Prisoner Vote And Be Voted For?

Felons who are actively serving a prison sentence often lose their voting rights.

Only Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote from prison.

Most states revoke voting rights while a felon is serving time.

Some states permanently revoke voting rights, including Iowa, Wyoming, and Arizona.

Most states return voting rights after prison and parole.

In 2020, Florida law regarding felons voting was changed, so they can vote after completing their sentences.

Because voting rights for felons vary, prisoners might have difficulty running for office while actively serving time.

Anyone running for office has to complete several documents and submit them to their local election boards.

Candidates serving prison time usually cannot bring their documents to their local election board offices making it difficult to run for office.

Wrapping up

While no laws exist that prevent felons from running for president, the process might be difficult for anyone with a felony conviction.

Of the 46 men who have been elected president, none have been felons.

A convicted felon will struggle to become president because the American people like to have presidents with respectable pasts.

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