- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday listed which felony convictions will cause a person to lose voting rights, an issue that’s been the subject of debate, disagreement and at least one lawsuit.

The Alabama Constitution dictates that people convicted of felonies involving “moral turpitude” are not able to vote. However, courts and state officials have wrestled with exactly what crimes are crimes of moral turpitude.

House members voted 99-1 for the bill that lists 40 offenses that will strip a person of their right to vote. The disqualifying offenses range from capital murder to second-degree theft. A person would not lose voting rights for drug possession.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Jones, said there has been a difference in interpretation of moral turpitude among counties.

“This says here is the definitive list. Everybody has to go by the same list. You can’t make up your own definition of moral turpitude,” Jones, R-Andalusia, said.

Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said he initially had discomfort with the bill, but said it would do away with confusion. England said people would be able to vote who had previously been blocked in the past for other convictions.

In 2008, the governor and attorney general gave state officials conflicting lists of felony convictions that bar a person from voting.

A Jefferson County judge in 2006 ruled that the state should allow felons to register until the Alabama Legislature defined exactly the crimes that would bar felons from voting. The Alabama Supreme Court overturned that decision in 2007.

The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

The bill was one of a series of election-related bills taken up by House members Tuesday.

House members delayed a vote on a bill that would have made changes to the state’s photo voter ID law. The bill would have required voters to submit a copy of their identification with an absentee ballot application.

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