Keeda Haynes responds to federal court decision on voting rights for people with felony convictions in Tennessee

April 25, 2024

“In a victory for Tennessee voters, a federal judge affirmed that Tennessee election officials cannot deny voter registration to eligible Tennesseans who have past felony convictions and that they must inform potential voters of the eligibility requirements for voting after a felony. …

Our commitment to ‘free the vote’ remains unwavering until every disenfranchised voice is heard.

“‘This court decision marks a significant victory in our ongoing battle for voting rights restoration for those silenced by felony disenfranchisement,’ said Keeda Haynes [Leading with Conviction™ 2022], senior legal counsel at Free Hearts. ‘While we celebrate today, we remain vigilant in our fight against the evolving challenges and barriers to voting that have emerged since we first filed this lawsuit. Our commitment to ‘free the vote’ remains unwavering until every disenfranchised voice is heard.’ …

“The Court’s ruling does not change the reality that, currently, Tennessee election officials have unlawfully created a ‘two-step’ voting rights restoration process that makes it just one of three states that effectively permanently disenfranchises citizens with prior felony convictions. This process resulted from a major, bad faith misinterpretation of the law by the Elections Division last summer requiring all Tennesseans to restore their ‘full citizenship rights’ before they can restore their voting rights – in addition to filling out the Certificate of Restoration (COR) form. Then, earlier this year, TN Elections Division confirmed that it wrongly interprets Tennessee law to conclude that, if a person who was convicted of a felony doesn’t or cannot get their full gun rights restored, they won’t ever be able to restore full citizenship and, thus, their voting rights in Tennessee — a policy that threatens to preclude Tennesseans with many types of felonies, including anyone with a felony drug conviction, from ever restoring their right to vote.”

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