Federal district court rejects challenges to Alabama felon voting laws

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says the state and Terminix International have signed a...
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says the state and Terminix International have signed a $60 million settlement after alleged illegal business practices and violations of the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Dec. 6, 2020 at 3:47 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A federal district court ruled Thursday against legal challenges to Alabama’s laws and practices concerning felon voting, Attorney General Steve Marshall said.

“Alabama’s voting laws have once again withstood legal challenges,” Marshall said in a statement. “The federal district court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled against multiple challenges to Alabama’s law preventing certain felons from voting as well as the process through which voting rights may be restored for some felons. It is particularly gratifying that the Court rejected constitutional claims of intentional racial discrimination for lack of evidence.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, in 1996, Alabama’s voters amended the State Constitution to “to limit disenfranchisement to only those convicted of felonies involving moral turpitude.”

The state’s laws also provide for some felons who have lost their voting rights to regain those rights, according to the Attorney General’s Office. In 2003, the Legislature created a “Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote,” which allows for certain felons to regain their voting rights through a quicker, non-discretionary process. The Legislature in 2016 revised the certificate process to make it easier.

The Attorney General’s Office said opponents of the state’s felon voting laws brought multiple challenges in court.

“Among other things, they alleged that Alabama’s constitutional provision was racially discriminatory and imposed cruel and unusual punishment, and they sought to have the voter registration form list each and every disqualifying felony,” said the Attorney General’s Office in a statement. “Additionally, similar to a high-profile lawsuit brought in Florida, they alleged that requiring felons to pay certain court-ordered monies to be eligible for a Certificate was unconstitutional wealth discrimination.”

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled in Treva Thompson et al. v. Secretary of State John H. Merrill et al., finding for the State officials on the claims, the Attorney General’s Office states.

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