A voting rights group has asked a federal judge to force Alabama to tell people that they could be eligible to vote after previously being disqualified for a felony conviction. U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins on Wednesday scheduled a July 25 hearing on the Campaign Legal Center’s injunction request. The Campaign Legal Center last week asked Watkins to require the state to implement an education campaign and take other steps, after lawmakers approved legislation clarifying which felonies cause a person to lose voting rights. The group also asked the state to reinstate eligible voters and disclose all voter registration applicants and voter registrants who were denied the right to vote on the basis of conviction in the past two years.
“HB 282 has the potential to restore access to the franchise for thousands of eligible voters who should never have been denied their rights in the first place,” attorneys wrote.
Alabama is one of a handful of states that permanently strip some convicted felons of their right to vote. The 1901 Alabama Constitution says people convicted of crimes involving “moral turpitude” are no longer able to vote. However, the constitution doesn’t define the term or list any crimes meeting the definition. Politicians for decades squabbled over what was a disqualifying crime.