September 20, 2008

stealthevote Down in Alabama, you don't lose your vote if convicted of a felony unless it's for a crime of "moral turpitude' - and simple drug possession doesn't fall into that category. Which means somewhere around 50,000 Alabamans are allowed to vote and maybe don't know it - including about 6 - 7,000 still in prison.

The Ordinary People's Society and their national partner the Drug Policy Alliance had been working in the prisons, registering voters with the full support of the Alabama Department of Corrections - until...

Alabama Prisons Commissioner Richard Allen stopped a voter registration drive for inmates Thursday under pressure from the Alabama Republican Party.

In a letter to state Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard, Allen said individuals conducting the program "were not doing anything for the inmates that they could not do themselves by simply contacting the Secretary of State's Office for the voter registration postcard."

Still, Allen said he decided to stop the drive because of a section in the state code that prohibits using state-owned property to promote or advance candidates for election.

"While it is not clear that assisting voters to register would violate those provisions, I cannot expose departmental employees to that possibility," he wrote.

... Allen's letter to Hubbard was in response to one the chairman e-mailed him earlier in the day, saying the GOP supports the idea of registering more people to vote, but not when it comes to prisoners.

"Furthermore, I have concerns about potential issues with how this effort is being monitored to ensure no form of voter fraud occurs," wrote Hubbard, who is also minority leader of the Alabama House, which votes on the prison system's budget.

Of course, the subtext here is "stop, or we'll vote to cut your budget". Meanwhile, the State AG is trying to get the whole law overturned and ban everyone convicted of a felony from voting.

But we're not talking about murderers, rapists and violent criminals here - we're talking about tens of thousands convicted of a simple possession charge who have stayed clean thereafter. Trouble is, those folk don't usually vote Republican.

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