Perrion Roberts, 49, earned a pardon from Alabama this year. That means she can cast a ballot at the next election. But it’s difficult and it’s rare to get a second chance in Alabama. In Alabama and 11 other states ex-felons forfeit the right to vote. But the U.S. Department of Justice has sharply criticized the practice. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month called for repeal of such state bans, saying that “the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable.” Alabama blocks anyone convicted of a crime of moral turpitude from voting. There are exceptions. Ex-felons can regain the right to vote through full and partial pardons. Yet Roberts, who served time in prison on drug-related charges roughly a decade ago, is the first success story Bob Harrison can remember.
“We’ve been doing this 10 years now, and this is our first pardon,” said Bob Harrison, a member of the Madison County Commission.
His office runs a program to assist ex-felons. He estimated he’s worked with 2,000 over that time. Some sought full pardons. Others just applied to regain the right to vote.
Here are the odds for those who attempt the process: Alabama received applications for voting rights from 2,653 ex-felons. The state granted 843. The odds are better, if they hear your case, on winning a pardon. Alabama considered 980 and granted 753.