Alabama state Gov. Kay Ivey has just passed a bill that will restore voting rights to thousands of felons.
Because the state’s constitution says that voting rights will be withheld from anyone who commits a crime of “moral turpitude”. Since the phrase has never been clearly defined, there has historically been a great deal of confusion over what qualifies as a crime worthy of withdrawing the right to vote.
The new Definition of Moral Turpitude Act that was signed into effect on Wednesday by the Republican governor, however, “establishes a comprehensive list of felonies that involve moral turpitude which disqualify a person from exercising his or her right to vote”. This list of felonies, which consists mostly of such heinous acts as murder, sexual assault, or kidnapping, will restore voting rights to thousands of Alabama residents who have already been convicted of less hideous felonies.
“We commend Governor Ivey and the Alabama State Legislature for recognizing that Alabama law left the voting rights of too many citizens – especially Black citizens – hanging in the balance because of a legal ambiguity. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Ivey has taken a significant step towards making Alabama’s democracy more vital,” said the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “…this is a significant day for voting rights in Alabama.”
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