Campaign kicks off to restore voting rights for felons
Published 6:27 pm Saturday, July 8, 2017
By Justin Smith
The Selma Times-Journal
Just as it was during the Voting Rights Movement, historical Brown Chapel A.M.E Church was used Saturday as a gathering place to discuss a new campaign that will help felons gain back their right to vote.
Many Alabama residents were in attendance to gain information about the new voter rights registration process that could help convicted felons get the chance to vote.
The campaign is being led by Legal Services Alabama and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.
Information about the process was discussed, and audience members had the opportunity to ask questions to further understand the entire procedure a person must go through to once again have the right to vote.
“I am here for two reasons,” said Eddie Cook, assistant executive director of Alabama Board of Pardons & Paroles. “One is that I believe in this cause. A lot of our forefathers, brothers and sisters have already fought the fight for everyone to enjoy the right to vote. The other is to show that our department is committed to this and we want to serve as a spark and not a hindrance to this entire process.”
The process will allow people that have been stripped of the right to vote to complete an application process with the Board of Pardons and Parole. The conflict with the previous process was that felons were not allowed to vote if they committed a crime of moral turpitude. The decision of whether a crime was one of moral turpitude was left up to individual county registrars.
The new law has a clear list of what crimes are considered one of moral turpitude. The list of these crimes as well as step-by-step instructions of the voting rights restoration process can be found at www.aclualabama.org.
Some of the crimes that this law has an impact on are robbery, forgery, drug-related charges, assault and manslaughter. People that have been charged with rape and murder will still be barred from voting.
Restoration clinics will take place in churches in Birmingham, Mobile and Selma throughout the summer. The clinics will expand in the fall to cover more of the state.
“I love the fact that people are willing to give others a second chance,” said Selma resident Cynthia Morris. “Many people make mistakes and they learn from them. We should all learn to forgive and love one another.”