MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Today, the Alabama Voting Rights Project and community leaders in Montgomery spoke to the achievements across the state in voting rights restoration and the importance of ensuring every eligible voter in Alabama is registered and can contribute to the democratic process.
Alabama law changed in 2017 (‘The Definition of Moral Turpitude Act’) and re-enfranchised tens of thousands of Alabamians with past convictions. Prior to the clarification, more than 286,000 people were disenfranchised in Alabama, which included 15 percent of the state’s black population and nearly 8 percent of the total state population.
Staff members and volunteers for the Alabama Voting Rights Project (AVRP), a collaboration between Southern Poverty Law Center and Campaign Legal Center, have spent the past nine months assisting Alabamians with convictions in restoring their right to vote.
“The passing of HB282 in 2017 may have restored rights to tens of thousands across the state, but many of them have no idea. The Alabama Voting Rights Project has directly assisted 2,000 Alabamians in regaining the right to vote and visited over half the counties in the state, but there is still much more work to do to register every eligible voter,” said Jason Barnes, outreach fellow for the Alabama Voting Rights Project.
“Even after the passing of the Moral Turpitude Act of 2017, my burglary charge blocks me from being able to vote and that isn’t right. I’ve paid my debt to society and give back to my community, and a mistake I made in my youth shouldn’t limit my ability as an adult to participate in my community’s decisions,” said Timothy Lanier, an Alabama citizen still fighting for his rights.
“Prior to the law change in 2017, when canvassing to register voters, we would come into contact with citizens unable to register because of previous convictions. Now Rolling To The Polls is able to restore their voting rights, educate them in the importance of voting and empower people to participate in the political process,” said Kynesha Brown, Montgomery Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Rolling To The Polls Initiative Coordinator. “The work is particularly important in advance of this year’s mayoral election in Montgomery.”
“I have seen firsthand lives being changed after voter registration forms are submitted, and it’s heartwarming and inspiring. The continued work of the Alabama Voting Rights Project and other community organizations’ engagement are necessary so that more lives can be touched and political participation across Alabama can be boosted,” said Makhayla DesRosiers, Alabama State University NAACP Political Action Chair Representative.