A number of election officials across Alabama remain confused about the impacts of a sweeping new felon disenfranchisement law, according to interviews this week with registrars representing 12 counties. The new law, which took effect in August, clarified which felons are allowed to vote and what steps they need to take to restore that right. But four registrars told AL.com this week that they were not entirely clear about the intricacies of the law and how it applies to their duties. And multiple nonprofits and advocates told AL.com last month that they were working with people who were being wrongly barred from regaining the right to vote because the law is not being properly and consistently followed.
Secretary of State John Merrill told AL.com last week that registrars in each of Alabama’s 67 counties had been made aware of the new law and what they must do to follow it. Each county has a board of three appointed registrars who perform various duties that include handling felons’ applications to register to vote.
Merrill said via email Wednesday that he told “nearly 150 registrars” about the law’s impacts during a June 2 conference in Montgomery and that several smaller training sessions on the topic have been held in different parts of the state in recent months. He provided AL.com with copies of emails and flowcharts his office sent to registrars that clearly state what they must do to comply with the law.