If I have a felony conviction, can I vote?

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 may answer “No” when asked if you have a felony conviction on the voter registration form.

Conviction on or after May 18, 1981

Any person convicted of any felony on or after May 18, 1981 is disqualified from voting unless their voting rights have been restored or their conviction expunged. There are some crimes, however, where conviction renders you permanently ineligible to vote. View Restoration of Voting Rights

Conviction between January 15, 1973, and May 17, 1981

All persons who were convicted during this time period are eligible to vote. You do not need to have your rights restored, but the Division of Elections will need to verify you were convicted during this time period.

Conviction prior to January 15, 1973

You still have the right to vote unless you were convicted of one of the following crimes:

  • Abusing a female child
  • Arson and felonious burning
  • Bigamy
  • Bribery
  • Burglary
  • Felonious breaking into a business house, outhouse other than a dwelling house
  • Felonious breaking and entering a dwelling house
  • Larceny
  • Horse stealing
  • Robbery
  • Stealing bills of exchange or other valuable papers
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Counterfeiting
  • Forgery
  • Destroying a will
  • Incest
  • Rape
  • Sodomy
  • Buggery
  • Perjury
  • Subornation of perjury

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.

Download a summary handout regarding eligibility to vote after a felony conviction