Thursday, August 24, 2006

They're gonna have to do work

It looks like the Alabama Legislature is going to have to decide who gets to vote next year after all.

The NAACP sued Secretary of State Nancy Worley last year, seeking an authoritative answer to the question of which felony convictions qualify as "crimes of moral turpitude" and thus deprive a person of voting rights. A district court dismissed the NAACP's federal lawsuit on procedural grounds in May, but a Jefferson County circuit judge weighed in on the state version Wednesday, ruling that all felons should be allowed to register unless and until the Legislature statutorily enumerates the crimes that involve moral turpitude.

The ruling will force lawmakers to patch a gaping hole in Alabama voting law, and one can only hope that they will be reasonable enough not to strip voting rights due to crimes like marijuana possession. As an interesting side note, the Voting Rights Act's preclearance provisions, much maligned by a handful of Southern congressmen, can receive partial credit for the fact that the judge won't immediately order the state to permit felon registration.

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