Alabama inmates are registering to vote from prison. The Associated Press calls it a precedent-setting effort organized by activist groups with the blessing of state corrections officials. Nearly 80 prisoners filled out registration forms at two lockups, and organizers plan to help them and hundreds more obtain absentee ballots in time to vote in the Nov. 4. presidential election. Laura Schley, 34, with eight months left on a four-year sentence for illegal possession of prescription drugs, said the registration procedure “just blew my mind. My voting rights are very important to me and have been ever since I was 18.”
The state attorney general said seven years ago that inmates could vote from inside prison using absentee ballots. Confusion and lawsuits followed over which felons had that right because of a murky phrase in state law. The drive is led by Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan, who served 14 years on robbery and drug charges and is now a pastor. State law says those convicted of crimes of “moral turpitude” can’t vote unless they have their rights restored by the state. The law does not state exactly which crimes are bad enough to make that list. Glasgow, who coordinates a coalition of eight prisoners rights groups, is registering inmates convicted only of drug possession.