Dec 12, 2017

The Alabama voting law that could keep minorities from the polls

Doug Jones talking to voters in Alabama. Photo: Getty

Alabama is one of nine states that enacts a law barring ex-offenders who are in financial debt from voting — and they won't regain voting rights until they pay their outstanding court or legalfees in full.

Why it matters: African Americans make up more than half of the 286,266 people in Alabama affected by this law, despite accounting for only 26% of the electorate.

It's not easy to run as a Democrat in a Republican state that hasn't elected a Dem senator since 1992, but Jones has been polling well with African Americans, and 88% of African-American voters supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

One of Doug Jones' campaign pollsters, Paul Maslin, said if Jones gets around 95% of the African-American vote, that could help his chances of winning the Senate race. (Though he acknowledges that wouldn't be the deciding factor and says that all voter groups are key in this contentious race.)

But, if the race is decided by a few hundred votes, as Maslin predicted could happen, and it goes to Roy Moore, this law could help explain at least part of his victory because a large number of African-American voters who would likely vote Democratic wouldn't be able to go to the polls.

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