In Tennessee, a recent policy change is impacting nearly 500,000 people, making it more difficult for those with felony convictions to regain their voting rights, Newsweek reported.
A 2023 Tennessee Supreme Court decision was interpreted as requiring felons seeking to restore their voting rights to either obtain a pardon or have their full citizenship rights reinstated, including the right to bear arms.
Previously, individuals with felony convictions in Tennessee could regain their right to vote by settling outstanding debts and obtaining a "certificate of restoration." However, the new interpretation significantly alters this process.
Blair Bowie, director of Campaign Legal Center's Restore Your Vote, criticized the state's handling of this issue, telling The Associated Press, "Despite the Tennessee Legislature's clear intent to create meaningful pathways for voting rights restoration, the Elections Division, with help from the attorney general's office, continues to twist the law into tortured knots to prevent the 475,000 Tennesseans, including over 20% of voting age Black Tennesseans, with past felony convictions from voting."
The implementation of these changes has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of felons regaining their voting rights. Since the policy change, only 1 person out of 60 applicants has had voting rights restored.
Nonetheless, Mark Goins, Tennessee's coordinator of elections, said, "When someone commits a felony in the state of Tennessee, that person forfeits the right to vote in future Tennessee elections. The Legislature provided a path for those who committed a felony and seek to regain the right to vote."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Nick Koutsobinas ✉
Nick Koutsobinas, a Newsmax writer, has years of news reporting experience. A graduate from Missouri State University’s philosophy program, he focuses on exposing corruption and censorship.
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