University of Alabama students learn more about voting rights

Voting rights education series

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The School of Social Work at the University of Alabama started a series called “Own your vote” this week.

They’re bringing in speakers to educate students on their voting rights and how to ensure voters get equal access to the polls. One of them hoped the people listening to his message on the importance of restoring voting rights, take what he said to heart.

“Us all working together to actually help our fellow man feel whole as a citizen,” John Taylor explains.

Taylor is the Voting Rights Field Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The people who organized the “Own Your Vote” speaker series wanted Taylor to highlight how vulnerable people in the community are affected if everyone doesn’t have equal rights.

“Everyone’s voice matters. Everyone matters when it comes to getting to the polls. Voting is important,” said Shayla Smith with UA School of Social Work. Taylor said a change in state in law now makes it possible for more people who lost their right to vote due to a criminal conviction to get it back. But people unaware of the change are slow to take advantage of it.

“A lot of people don’t know they actually have the opportunity to have their voting rights restored once they have a felony conviction,” he continued. Taylor said since 2018, they have helped 2,500 people restore their right to vote.

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