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August 17, 2008

Persistent confusion over ex-felon voting rights

This local Alabama piece, headlined "State's felon voting law still unclear," tells a story that seems too common: even when states make efforts to restore the voting rights of former felons, legal confusion and uncertainty often reigns.  Here is the start of an interesting piece:

When Alabama made it easier for certain felons to regain the right to vote, it was hailed as a victory. But the law designed to make it easier for them to regain their voting rights has caused confusion and lawsuits -- because only crimes involving "moral turpitude" include disenfranchisement as part of the penalty.  The state has no definitive list of which specific crimes cost a person their voting rights and which don't, and it's not likely to get one before the November elections. 

Like most states, Alabama restricts the rights of felons to vote.  The Sentencing Project estimates some 250,000 people in the state are ineligible to vote because of a felony conviction. 

The new law was supposed to make it easier for felons who had done their time to regain their voting rights. Though an advocate for felon voting rights said the situation has improved since the law went into effect in 1993, the phone still rings off the hook every election year at the pardons and parole board with people asking questions.

As the piece suggests, The Sentencing Project is the place to go for information and resources about felon voting rights.  This March 2008 document from The Sentencing Project, titled "Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in The United States," documents some of the basics.  Unfortunately, in Alabama and many other states, the basic laws do not provide easy or complete answer to exactly who is and who is not eligible to vote.

August 17, 2008 at 09:08 AM | Permalink


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Dear Professor Berman:

Is it mere fear of the political consequences that keeps Barack Obama from speaking up in behalf of ex-felons? Is it indifference, supposing they are not a substantial voting block? Or is it, perhaps, that he is simply unconcerned about their plight? His silence is puzzling and disturbing.

Professor Emeritus, Philosophy of Law
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI

Posted by: Sidney Gendin | Aug 28, 2008 6:09:05 AM

If the statistic that "1 in 41 ex-felons do not have the right to vote" why would Obaba fear politaical consequences. It appears the number of supporters he'ld lose or MIGHT loose would be far outnumbered by the almost certain support from the 1 in 41 who now have the right to vote.

Posted by: | Dec 19, 2008 12:59:34 AM

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