MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AL.com) — "Many" Alabama felons will soon regain the right to vote if Gov. Kay Ivey signs a bill that landed on her desk Thursday morning, according to advocates.
The bill, called the Definition of Moral Turpitude Act, passed both houses of the state legislature Wednesday, a victory for backers who have sought for years to see it codified into law.
If Ivey signs it, the bill would more clearly define the term "moral turpitude" as it is used in the state constitution, which stipulates that "no person convicted of a felony of moral turpitude" may vote.
Rather than continuing to be loosely interpreted as referring to every felony but a list of five that includes driving under the influence and aiding and abetting, the term would refer to less than 50 specific "felonies that involve moral turpitude which disqualify a person from exercising his or her right to vote," the legislation states.
By redefining "moral turpitude," the bill would effectively restore "thousands" of felons' right to vote.
"This bill is a step in the right direction," Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, said in a Thursday statement. "With a stroke of her pen, Governor Ivey could enfranchise many Alabamans that have been wrongly denied the right to vote by the state's longstanding, arbitrary process of disenfranchisement."