The Chattanooga Times Free Press (Feb. 14, 2019) — In a state where an estimated 323,354 felons have completed their criminal sentences, two Republican lawmakers and a coalition of groups are pressing a bill to streamline what they describe as Tennessee’s “onerous” current process for restoring felons’ voting rights.
“We’re not creating a new eligibility class at all,” Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, said Wednesday at a news conference. “These are folks we’ve already said, with sort of one hand behind our back with our fingers crossed, ‘You’re eligible.’ We’ve just put a lot of paper burdens here and there so most folks don’t ever actually get to achieve that.”
Tennessee currently has the fourth highest disenfranchisement rate in the country, more than triple the national rate, proponents say. There are reasons for it, supporters of the bill say.