The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in the United States because the government should not make laws without the consent of the governed in a Democracy. As a felon, you are subject to all laws of the United States, but you can lose your right to participate in the democratic process because if stripped of your right to vote.
Project Vote is an advocacy organization working to restore rights to former felons. As efforts are being made to re-enfranchise felons, the state of Alabama has recently moved towards more clearly defining what offenses can result in someone losing the right to vote. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows that the current rules for what crimes will result in the loss of your privileges are unclear and often this means people who actually are eligible to vote don't try to register.
While the best change would be to relax laws and give people back their rights after they have served their time, it is at least a step in the right direction that Alabama is now trying to clarify exactly what offenses preclude you from participating in the democratic process.
Crimes That Result in the Loss of Voting Rights
According to Alabama.com, the current law in Alabama says that a person convicted of a felony involving "moral turpitude" loses the right to vote. The problem is, there is no actual definition of moral turpitude established by federal or state law. Individual counties have simply made up the rules on their own. This has resulted in differing interpretations of the law from county to county, which in turn has made it harder for people to determine if they have the right to vote.
The Alabama House of Representatives has taken steps to develop a list of specific offenses that result in the loss of voting rights if convicted. The House of Representatives approved a list of felony offenses and county registrars can now purge voters convicted of those specific crimes. More uniformity will be achieved throughout the state and, hopefully, this will result in more people voting.
The felony offenses are on Alabama's list of crimes of "moral turpitude," now include:
- Murder and manslaughter
- Rape, sexual torture, sexual abuse and sodomy
- Enticing a child to enter into a vehicle for an immoral purpose
- Using a computer to solicit a child
- Theft of property, theft of lost property, and burglary
- Stealing trademarks or trade secrets
- Any offenses related to child pornography
- Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances or unlawfully distributing controlled substances
- Offenses related to terrorism
Those convicted of drug possession and other minor crimes should not lose their right to vote in Alabama. Anyone who is accused of a felony or any crime can, however, face lasting consequences including increased difficulty finding employment after a criminal background check. You need to defend yourself vigorously to protect your future.