Alabama election officials don’t have to immediately educate impacted people about a change in state voting qualifications that clarified tens of thousands of felons have the right to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday. The ruling came in response to a request from lawyers from the Campaign Legal Center, on behalf of 10 voters over a law that prohibited anyone who committed a “felony of moral turpitude” from voting. In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a law defining exactly which offenses constituted a crime of moral turpitude, earning widespread praise. But Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) told HuffPost in June the state wouldn’t undertake any effort to target people affected by the change and let them know they’re now eligible to vote.
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates the changes could affect thousands of potential voters.
Campaign Legal Center lawyers said that the overhaul would cause confusion among people who previously had been told they could not vote, but under the clarified law were now clearly eligible. Ahead of a Monday registration deadline for a special election for the U.S. Senate, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction requesting the state promote the changes in eligibility. It also requested it automatically reinstate and notify those who had been told they couldn’t vote in the past two years, but were clearly eligible.