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.
Miss B attended a voter registration event hosted by Greater Birmingham Ministries. There, she was assisted through the process of filling out and submitting to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) an application for a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote (CERV). The ABPP has 44 days to review the application once it is received. When an applicant has a past felony conviction that disqualifies them from voting, but has completed their sentence, finished probation or parole, has paid all fines, fees or restitution, and has no felony charges currently pending, the ABPP must grant the application and issue the CERV that then enables the applicant to register to vote. Miss B met all the criteria and received her CERV. She showed the CERV to the Jefferson County Registrar’s office, filed out a voter registration application and successfully registered to vote.
When voting began for the 2020 general election, she took advantage of Covid protocols that expanded absentee and early voting in Alabama and decided to vote absentee, in-person. She asked if we would accompany her in case she needed help. We were delighted. At the clerk’s office, her name was called and the election officials handed Miss B her ballot. We stood by her as she marked her choices. She placed her ballot in the “secrecy” envelope and then the “affidavit” envelope and returned it to the election officials to be witnessed. Miss B then placed her ballot in the secure metal ballot box and thanked the election officials. When she shared that she was voting for the first time, smiles, congratulations and blessings abounded. When asked Miss B what had motivated her to reclaim her right to vote, she said, “all this time, I’ve been existing. I want to live; there’s a difference. Voting lets me feel like I’m living.”