Alabama might allow more former felons to vote in upcoming elections. The change may come after the State approved a list of what crimes will cause someone to lose their voting rights. The State House and Senate passed legislation last month that defines a crime of "moral turpitude" as one that will cause someone to lose their voting rights. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill aimed at ending confusion over who can, and can't vote, because of prior convictions.
The new list of forty six types of felonies includes robbery, assault, felony theft and drug trafficking but not offenses such as drug possession. Voting rights advocates called it a "step forward" in softening the policy of blocking ballot box access for people with criminal records - and hit African-Americans particularly hard.
The 1901 Alabama Constitution says people convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude" are no longer able to vote, but didn't define what crimes were to be included. The civil liberties group The Sentencing Project has estimated more than quarter million people have been blocked from voting in Alabama. Nearly half of those were African-American.