Constance Todd, 70 years old and a diligent voter in elections local and national, did not know what to make of the letter she got from the local registrar this month. “You have been convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude,” it read, apparently referring to a conviction for a series of bad checks from 20 years ago, “which disqualifies you from voting under Amendment 579 of the Constitution of Alabama.” A puzzled Ms. Todd gathered the official documents she keeps on hand, including the photo ID she had been required to obtain for voting in Alabama, and called her son, Timothy Lanier. He knew exactly what this was about. He knew, from a similar letter he had received himself. He also knew from his long days at the prison library learning about state laws by poring over the State Constitution. And, as it just so happened, Mr. Lanier is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court in Alabama, claiming that the state law stripping the vote from any person “convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude” — a law that has left more than 250,000 adults in the state ineligible to vote — is racially discriminatory, indefensibly vague and flagrantly unconstitutional.
Sep 30 2016