Restoration of Voting Rights
This guide outlines conditions and procedures through which individuals who have lost their voting rights may regain them.
Article 4, §2 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that the Tennessee legislature may deny the right to vote to persons convicted of "infamous" crimes. Pursuant to this provision in the Tennessee Constitution, the Tennessee legislature has excluded individuals convicted of various felonies from the right of suffrage.
However, the legislature has also established conditions and procedures through which individuals who have lost their voting rights may regain them. The manner in which a person may restore a lost voting right depends upon the crime committed and the year in which the conviction occurred. If your conviction has been expunged, you should answer, ‘No,’ on the voter registration form when asked if you have a felony conviction.
Any conviction for a crime that is a felony in Tennessee – whether by a court in Tennessee, in another state, or federal – causes you to lose your voting rights. You may regain your eligibility to vote if you have your conviction expunged or if you have your voting rights restored.
Regaining the right to vote after a felony conviction is a two-step process. First, an individual must receive a pardon or have their full rights of citizenship restored. Second, the individual must meet requirements related to paying restitution and court costs, if any, and be current on any child support obligations, if any.
A pardon or restoration of full rights of citizenship is required for all restorations. An individual remains eligible to have their rights restored upon completion of their sentence and any period of supervision, however, they must receive a pardon or have their full rights of citizenship restored before submitting the certificate of restoration. Under Tennessee law, full rights of citizenship can be restored by petition to the circuit court.
However, you are never eligible to register and vote if you were convicted of specific felonies within specific date ranges:
After July 1, 1986
After July 1, 1996, to June 30, 2006
After July 1, 2006
All persons who were convicted during this time period are eligible to vote. You do not need to have your rights restored.
You still have the right to vote unless you were convicted of one of the following crimes:
Even if you were convicted of a crime listed above, you still have the right to vote if you can show that at the time of your conviction the judge did not render you “infamous,” if your conviction was reversed on appeal or expunged, if you received a full pardon, or if you have your voting rights restored.
|Restoration of Voting Rights