Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law Wednesday that clears up confusion for some 250,000 Alabamians who currently can’t vote due to a felony conviction. There’s now a list that clearly defines which felonies prohibit someone from the ballot box for life. For others, this bill could restore their voting rights, but just how many remains unclear. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, the Southern Poverty Law Center breaks it down like this: your voting rights fall into one of three categories.
The first, you’re permanently disenfranchised. This includes people with murder or rape convictions. The third category is for those with misdemeanors who never lost the right to vote, but the middle category, the one the law deals with, is for those who have been convicted of a felony, but there’s a grey area surrounding their voting rights.
The constitution says you can lose your right to vote if you’re convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude. “Because there was no codified list or state law that said these are the crime for which you lose your right to vote, there was arbitrary application among the different registrar’s office,” said Shay Farley, Policy Council, Southern Poverty Law Center.
Meaning up until this point, a felon’s right to vote varied county by county.