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Felony convictions and voting rights

| Jan 29, 2021 | Criminal defense

Finishing your sentence for a felony conviction starts a new chapter in your life. While serving your sentence, Tennessee stripped you of the right to vote, but you may have the right to regain your full ability to participate in democracy. Many former felons may regain their voting rights by completing a form. However, the state imposes multiple exceptions for those convicted of infamous crimes.

Proof of restoration

The state will process your request for restoration of voting rights. Once you obtain official documentation from the state, you may register to vote again through the normal process undertaken by any citizen.

Restoration of voting rights form

The Secretary of State provides the restoration of voting rights form. You are not allowed to fill out this form yourself. Someone else, such as a probation or parole officer, must enter the information. The state requires a form for each felony conviction on your record before you can register to vote again.

Infamous crimes

For the most part, you could ask for your voting rights back after completing penalties for felony convictions that occurred on or after May 18, 1981. If your conviction happened between Jan. 15, 1973 and May 17, 1981, you may already be eligible to vote.

However, conviction for infamous crimes that took place before Jan. 15, 1973 prevents you entirely from voting. A long list of offenses applies in this situation, including:

  • Arson
  • Rape
  • Forgery
  • Robbery
  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting

Criminal law ties many infamous crime convictions to the timing of their occurrence. For example, the state revokes voting rights for convictions after July 1, 1986 for the following offenses:

  • Aggravated rape
  • First-degree murder
  • Treason
  • Voter fraud

Learn more about access to voting rights

A criminal record with multiple convictions or expungements might leave you with questions about how to proceed. Consulting a lawyer could inform you about your eligibility for voting again.