During the 1901 Alabama Constitutional Convention, lawmakers devised a plan conceived and dedicated to the proclamation: establish white supremacy. They enacted section 182, moral turpitude — their push to disenfranchise blacks following Reconstruction. Moral turpitude epitomized vagueness, thus state registers banned or granted a convicted applicant’s voting rights on a whim.
Therefore, in May 2017, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that clarified and defined moral turpitude. However, Secretary of State John Merrill denies he’s obligated to help former inmates; perhaps based on Judge W. Keith Watkins’ ruling that Alabama doesn’t have to educate former inmates about their voting rights. But Merrill savaged his moral responsibility. His indifference is galling. How reminiscent of the clergy who criticized Martin Luther King for demonstrating in Birmingham. But, they refused to express similar concern for the conditions, which precipitated the demonstrations. Whereas, Merrill failed to exhaust cost-effective measures: public service announcements and social media to educate ex-felons. For example, an Alabama newspaper provided information for ex-felons to determine their voting status.
Relying on Merrill to aid or advocate for ex-felons is foolish. It’s akin to chewing with a bad tooth or walking with a crippled foot.
Marc D. Greenwood