Alabama's Felon Disenfranchisement Law
An editorial in today's NY Times calls attention to the true purpose of felon disenfranchisement laws in southern states: "felony disenfranchisement is an enormous obstacle to voting for black people in the Deep South."
In Alabama, an archaic law strips the right to vote from people convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude,'' without explaining what that is or what crimes are covered. A man who was convicted of a felony for driving under the influence of alcohol, for example, was stripped of his right to vote. When he reapplied for the vote, different agencies gave him contradictory answers, and he was initially prohibited from registering.
People who work and pay taxes deserve to participate in the political process. Erecting barriers to voting that disproportionately disenfranchise black voters is antithetical to democracy. The solution is clear:
The only honorable solution is to automatically restore voting rights to Alabamians who have completed their sentences. That's the only way to take this issue out of the hands of bureaucrats and make amends for one of the most shameful voting rights records in American history.
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