Tennessee advances bill restoring voting rights for felons

Tennessee advances bill restoring voting rights for felons
© Hill illustration/iStock

A bill in the Tennessee legislature that would restore voting rights for people convicted of felonies cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday.

The measure, which could restore voting rights for almost 320,000 individuals with felony convictions, was approved by a House panel and now awaits a floor vote in the chamber.

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The bill, introduced last month by state Rep. Michael Curcio (R), would remove the state’s requirement for previously incarcerated felons to be up to date on child support payments and would simplify the voter registration process for felons, according to The Associated Press.

Felons convicted of murder, aggravated rape, treason or voter fraud would remain prohibited from voting, but all other convicted felons would have their voting rights restored under the legislation.

State law allows felons convicted after 1981 the opportunity to petition for their voting rights after they complete their sentence, but the process is cumbersome and rarely used.

The movement to restore voting rights for felons has gained momentum recently in other states, with Florida last year passing a ballot amendment that gives more than 1 million formerly incarcerated individuals the right to vote.