Tennessee enacted stringent laws with regard to convicted felons and ex-felons who wish to restore have their voting rights. Tennessee state law prohibits voting by anyone convicted of serious crimes including murder, rape, treason, incest, bigamy, bribery, arson or voter fraud. Individuals charged and convicted of lesser felonies--including drunken driving and assault and battery--may formally apply to request restoration of their voting rights through one of several procedures.
For Convictions After May 18, 1981
Meet eligibility requirements in one or more ways: serve your sentence and pay all associated fees, including any outstanding child support, court costs and fines. Apply for a pardon (forgiveness of your crime) from the Tennesse government, state parole board or the President of the United States, depending on the crime. Get a final release from state correction officials that will terminate your sentence, or wait for it to expire.
Submit a request for restoration of your voting rights to the local (circuit) court in the county where you live or where the conviction/sentence was issued. Once the court order, or judgment, restoring your voting rights is issued, mail or take a certified copy to the election commission in your county of residence.
Download a Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights online (see Resources) or acquire one from the election commission in your county. Get the appropriate Tennessee authorities (parole or corrections officer, court system or pardoning officials) to complete the form. Send or deliver the completed form to the local election commission for processing and approval.
Convictions Prior to January 15, 1973
Determine if you are eligible to get your voting rights restored. For convictions under this category, certain crimes will permanently disqualify you from voting. If you were not convicted of one of those crimes, you may apply for restoration of voting rights if you received a reversal of sentence, pardon or a court order (judgment) reinstating your full rights as a U.S. citizen.
Provide written proof or documentation to the state/county election commission that you've met at least one of the requirements in Step 2. They will then process your paperwork and reinstate your right to vote, unless they need more information or documentation.
Keep copies of all correspondence and paperwork between you, the election commission and all other involved parties for future reference.
For convictions that occurred between January 15, 1973 and May 17, 1981, there is no restoration process to complete because these individuals have been allowed to keep their voting rights, regardless of the crime.
- directional vote sign image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com