Return My Vote
Return My Vote is a partnership between faculty and students at the University of Alabama and Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM) dedicated to helping restore the voting rights of every Alabama citizen who has lost their voting rights due to a felony conviction. At RMV, we believe that true democracies prize the voices of each of their citizens through the franchise. By offering free virtual and in-person counseling services to address every question one may have about voting rights restoration in Alabama, at every single stage of the restoration process, we seek to uplift these democratic values and ensure that every voice is heard.
Voting in Alabama
Voter eligibility policies in Alabama can be confusing and difficult to navigate, especially for those who have lost their voting rights due to a felony conviction. We have the resources you need to determine your eligibility and if necessary, help you get your right to vote restored.
News and Upcoming Events
When we met Miss B at the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Birmingham, she was joyful and excited. About to turn 64 on October 8, 2020, Miss B was thrilled to be voting for the very first time in her life. She had been convicted of several property theft crimes more than 20 years ago, had completed all the terms of her sentences and had been law-abiding and a participating member of her community for decades. But Alabama’s harsh felony disenfranchisement laws continued to bar her from full citizenship and participation in civic life by denying Ms. B the right to vote. In 2017, however, Alabama’s laws changed in a positive direction and Miss B became one of the estimated 250,000 disenfranchised Alabama citizens eligible to restore their voting rights.
The story of Ronald McKeithen is one of hope and perseverance.
In 1984, at the age of 21, Ronald McKeithen was convicted of first-degree robbery for a convenience store hold-up in Birmingham, AL and even though there were no physical injuries or shots fired-outside of several hundred dollars being taken- he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison; life without the possibility of parole was also mandatory under Alabama’s Felony Offender Act (HFOA) because Ron had three nonviolent property crimes in his past, two deriving from a single incident.
Despite the system giving up on him, McKeithen never gave up on himself.
Upon his release, Ron admitted, “When I was released, the issue of getting my voting rights back didn’t come about until I met Dori,” said McKeithen. “Even when she said it could happen, I didn’t believe her.”
As a person who has dealt with the travails of navigating through an unforgiving prison system, he understands the power that lies within the ballot box.
“When I was able to finally vote, I felt empowered, and it gave me a voice. So, to anyone who feels like their vote doesn’t make a difference, that’s like giving up not only on yourself, but on your whole community,” said McKeithen.
In 1994, Alonzo Hurth was sentenced to life without parole for a robbery conviction without physical injury. Before 1994, he had two prior convictions- two forgery cases, the first one occurring back in 1974 wherein he cashed a check for $500 and one in 1983 where he cashed two more checks for $500. Due to the draconian laws that were in place during that time in the state- specifically the Alabama’s 1979 Habitual Felony Offender Act, it was mandated that Hurth be given a life without parole sentence despite the fact that none of his convictions involved an act of violence.
Hurth admitted that before entering prison he had never voted before. “Before being in prison, I had never voted before in my life,” said Hurth. “But during the time I was in prison, I came to a point where I realized how important it was to have a voice in the world, and how your vote could make a difference.”
On June 21, 2021, Hurth walked out of Donaldson Correctional Facility a free man after a Jefferson County judge ordered him released on time served. After being connected with Dori Miles, a volunteer with Greater Birmingham Ministries and Co- Director of Return My Vote, through Alabama Appleseed, Miles was able to assist Hurth in restoring his voter eligibility. Since then, he has voted in every election and now helps to educate others about Alabama’s process for getting back the right to vote if a person has lost it due to a felony conviction.