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Alabama one of few states that won’t let ex-felons vote


VoteBy Alton Mitchell

Alabama is home to nearly 5 million people. Many of the people of Alabama are hardworking people who simply want the best out of life each day. However as is the case people tend to do dumb things on the road of life creating bumps along their path. Some of those bumps lead to lifelong felony convictions for offenders. Along with the record that follows these individuals there is also a disenfranchisement of rights for those who have this modern day Scarlett letter.

One of the greatest lost rights of ex-felons is the right to vote in the political process. On Tuesday as many voters turned out to the polls certain Alabamians wanted to participate in the political process yet no longer have a legal right to participate in that process.

Estimates suggest that nearly 8% of the total population of Alabama is ineligible to vote due to past convictions. While 8% may seem like a small number, in totals that number puts almost 275,000 Alabamians in the statistic of ineligible voters. That number is greater than the population of the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

In the Super Tuesday election of the past week in Alabama, many argue that the turnout of voters can be far different if all people who wanted to could vote. Estimates show that only about 40% of the eligible population of Alabama is anticipated to vote in the primary election. A jump from 40% to 48% could offer a far different outcome many argue.

The federal government does not offer any type of regulation as to how states can implement voting rights for ex-felons. Due to that lack of federal oversight there is a large variety of how voting rights are governed based on where a person lives. Examples include states such as Maine and Vermont where there is no restriction to voting and even incarcerated felons can cast an absentee vote while incarcerated.

States such as Alabama’s neighbor to the east, Georgia only disenfranchises voting rights while a person is still under legal scrutiny. Georgia restricts a person’s right to vote only while they are incarcerated or under a term of supervised release such as probation or parole. Once that term of sentence has been suspended ex-felons automatically get their right to vote restored in that state.

Alabama however goes on the far spectrum and removes voting rights of in state felons for life. Alabama is not without a loophole in its law though. The state does allow a process in which ex-felons can get their rights to vote back it is done through an application process with the state’s department of pardons. While some felonies do allow restoration to occur more serious natured offenses are bared for life to include; impeachment, murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, incest, sexual torture, enticing a child to enter a vehicle for immoral purposes, soliciting a child by computer, production of obscene matter involving a minor, production of obscene matter, treason, parents or guardians permitting children to engage in obscene matter, possession with intent to distribute child pornography.

Alabama has caught a lot of argument about the lifelong banning as have many other states. Some groups have even argued that certain areas of the Voters Right Acts are violated by the laws in place now. Chambers County like any other in the state of Alabama is not without its ex-felons, many of which do not participate in the political election process in this state due to their checkered pasts, however with the exception of the more serious natured offenses hope is not always lost for a second chance. Those interested in having a restoration of voting rights issued should contact the Alabama Department of Pardon and Paroles in Montgomery.