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Restoring Voting Rights in Tennessee

Under Tennessee law, a person convicted of an “infamous” crime or certain felonies could have their voting rights taken away. Fortunately, legislation also contains provisions that allow a person to restore their eligibility to vote. How a person goes about doing that depends on when the crime was committed and what type of offense it was.

When Voting Rights Can Be Restored

Whether the person was convicted in local, state or federal court, if it occurred on or after May 18, 1981, they must have the restoration of voting rights form completed by an official, such as a probation/parole officer or court clerk. The person seeking to have their voting rights restored cannot complete the form themselves.

The form must include the following information:

  • Type of offense
  • Date of the incident
  • Completion of the sentence and the
  • Type of fines or restitution paid (if any)

If a person was convicted of certain crimes after May 18, 1981, voting rights can never be restored.

Convictions for the following offenses are excluded:

  • First-degree murder, aggravated rape, treason, or voter fraud that occurred between July 1, 1986 and June 30, 1996
  • Murder, rape, treason or voter fraud that occurred between July 1, 1996 and June 30, 2006
  • Any degree of murder, any degree of rape, felony sexual offenses committed against a minor, violent sexual offenses, treason, or voter fraud that occurred on or after July 1, 2006

If the person was convicted of an offense between January 15, 1973 and May 17, 1981, they are automatically eligible to vote and do not have to submit the restoration of voting rights form.

For most convictions that occurred before January 15, 1973, the individual has the right to vote. However, certain limitations exist for specific crimes. For those offenses, they must show that the crime was not considered “infamous” or that the conviction was reversed or expunged.

Challenges of Restoring Voting Rights

Although the process for restoring voting rights appears straightforward, it is often filled with difficulties and, in some cases, could take years to complete. According to The Sentence Project, of the 323,000 Tennesseeans convicted of felonies between 1990 and 2015, only 11,500 got their voting rights restored.

For Professional Legal Representation, Contact Eldridge & Blakney

If you were charged with a felony in Knoxville and convicted, you could lose specific rights. To work toward preventing that from happening, get legal counsel from a skilled attorney. Our team has over 90 years of experience guiding individuals through various cases in Knoxville, including drug crimes, DUIs, and theft offenses. We are ready to provide the help you need to navigate your case.

Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (865) 999-0350 or contacting us online.

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