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Table of Contents:
Co-author, The USERRA Manual (Thompson West, annual editions since 2008) (with Kathryn Piscitelli)
Co-author, "Job Rights of Employees who Serve in the Military: USERRA Rights and Obligations," ATLA Docket (Ark. Trial Lawyers Ass'n), Spring 2008 (with Mary Dryovage and Kathryn S. Piscitelli) [This article has been published in two AAJ newsletters -- Employment Rights Section and Federal Tort and Military Advocacy Section]
Author, “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” “Right to Vote,” “Reynolds v. Sims,” in Encyclopedia of American Law (D. Schultz, ed.) (2002)
Author, “A Simple Agenda for Election Reform,” 50 The National Voter (2001)
Co-author, “Is There a Constitutional Right to Vote and Be Represented? The Case of the District of Columbia,” 48 Am. U. L. Rev. (1999) (edited transcript of conference session)
Co-author, “Alternative Electoral Systems as Voting Rights Remedies,” 18 FEC Journal of Election Administration (1997)
Co-author, “One Person, Seven Votes: The Cumulative Voting Experience in Chilton County, Alabama,” in Affirmative Action and Representation: Shaw v. Reno and the Future of Voting Rights (1997)
Co-author, “Alternative Voting: How it Works,” Voting Rights Review (Spring 1995) [HTML]
Co-author, “Cumulative Voting as a Remedy in Voting Rights Cases,” 84 National Civic Review (1995)
Author, “Alabama,” in The Quiet Revolution: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act in the South, 1965-1990 (1994)
Author, “Symposium: The Supreme Court, Racial Politics, and the Right to Vote: Shaw v. Reno and the Future of the Voting Rights Act,” 44 Am. U. L. Rev. (1994) (edited transcript of conference)
Author, “Cumulative and Limited Voting in Alabama,” in United States Electoral Systems: Their Impact on Minorities and Women (1992)
Author, “The Hunting of the Gerrymander”, 38 UCLA L. Rev. (1991) (review of Political Gerrymandering and the Courts)
Author, “Voluntary Constituencies: Modified At-Large Voting As A Remedy For Minority Vote Dilution In Judicial Elections,” 9 Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. (1991)
Author, “Alternatives to Single-Member Districts,” in Davidson and Grofman, eds., Minority Vote Dilution (1984)
Author, "Election Reform Bill Will Add Uniformity to U.S. Voting System," op-ed piece in Birmingham News, 20 October 2002
Author, "State must consider what-ifs in revising election laws," op-ed piece in Birmingham News, 17 November 2002
Edward Still and Brenda Wright interviewed about election law
Description: Voter fraud, faulty equipment, voter purges, 3rd party registration problems-These are just some of the issues plaguing elections past and present. Law.com blogger and host, J. Craig Williams welcome experts, Attorney Brenda Wright, Legal Director of Demos, and Attorney Edward Still a Birmingham lawyer who specializes in voting law and founder of the blog, Votelaw.com. They will discuss legal issues surrounding voter’s rights, voter fraud, election litigation and what can and can't be done to recruit voters. -- LegalTalkNetwork, MP3 Link, and WMA Link.
Birmingham News article on proposed sewer referendum quotes Ed Still
The Birmingham News has published an article quoting Edward Still on the legality of holding an advisory referendum on the sewer bond crisis. Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King has asked the state attorney general if it is legal to hold an advisory referendum.
The Birmingham News called Ed Still and asked his opinion.
Ed Still, a Birmingham lawyer who specializes in voting law, said Jefferson County's advisory vote "should not go forward unless they make sure it's legal to hold this referendum."
"Absent some odd decision from a court, I think the county is just foreclosed from holding this referendum. Somebody will bring a lawsuit," he said.
Some voters may also be confused about the complexity of the questions, Still said.
"There are some questions in there that looks like graduate school work to me," he said. "It uses words that are not in the vocabulary of everyday people."
Are you prepared to vote?
Your vote can impact the quality of your schools, access to affordable housing, employment opportunities, and the availability of quality healthcare.
The Prepared to Vote campaign is a non-partisan voter education initiative that will help voters protect their rights by arming them with the information they need to navigate the electoral process, identify instances when their voting rights are violated, and fight to remedy problems before their voting rights are denied.
Click here for information on
* When, where and how to register to vote;
* Important voting deadlines;
* How to verify your voter registration and poll location;
* What to do if you have moved;
* How to vote absentee;
* What to expect on Election Day, and
* Your rights as a voter.
On a panel at "Working in the Public Interest" Conference
On 30 and 31 March, I will be a member of a panel discussing felon disfranchisement on the University of Georgia School of Law Conference on Working in the Public Interest. The Conference organizers describe it this way:
Entirely student organized, WIPI seeks to bring together eminent practitioners in their respective fields, students, and faculty to discuss practical approaches to lawyering which can best serve the poor. Practical methods of challenging poverty are often not covered in traditional law school courses. This conference seeks to remedy that and provide dynamic, creative ways to combat poverty through the vehicle of the law.
For more information about the Conference, including the schedule of panels, go to the WIPI site.
Gooden v. Worley appeal briefs
The main briefs have now been filed in the State of Alabama v. Gooden appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court (this was Gooden v. Worley in the trial court). Click on the links to get the Appellants' brief (1711 kb) and the Appellees' brief (219 kb). For earlier posts about this case, go to the Voting archive page.
A group of clergy have filed an amicus brief (1362 kb) in support of the plaintiffs. We appreciate the work of the Brennan Center and the Birmingham firm of Whatley Drake & Kallas LLC in producing this brief.
Race and Election Reform, June 2001, 12 pages, [PDF]
A summary of the Voting Rights Act, 4 pages, [Word format]
Bailout under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 5 pages, [PDF]
Federal Restrictions on State and Local Campaigns, Political Groups and Individuals, December 2002, 27 pages [PDF]
Candidate Compliance with the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, February 2003, 4 pages [PDF]
Free and Fair Elections: A Quick Comparison on Election Administration in Florida and Bosnia, 17 pages, conference paper, early 2002, [PDF]
Speaking Engagements -- past
Mr. Still has been a guest lecturer on the history of voting rights litigation and on election methods at the Georgetown University Law Center, University of Virginia School of Law, Washington and Lee University (undergraduate and School of Law), Cumberland Law School, Birmingham-Southern College, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Pomona College, and University of Massachusetts at Boston.
He has also been a panelist or speaker at meetings of the State Conference of NAACP Branches in Alabama (1998), South Carolina (1999), North Carolina (1999), Florida (1999, 2000), Mississippi (1998), and Tennessee (1998); the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (1997); the Southeast Regional NAACP Annual Convention (1998); the Voting Rights Conference of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (1999); American Bar Association Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice (1999); the National Conference of State Legislators (1999); the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (2000); the National Election Standards Task Force of the National Association of Secretaries of State (2000); the Congressional Black Associates (2001); the National Association of Counties (2001); the National Association of County Civil Attorneys (2001 and 2002); and the International Municipal Lawyers Association (2001 and 2002); Women in Politics Leadership Institute, University of Alabama (2003); Center for Voting and Democracy, “Training the Trainers” workshop (Atlanta, Georgia) (2003); Alabama Democratic Confernece (2005).
He has been a panelist at several annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the XIIIth World Congress of the International Political Science Association, an annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association, and a conference at the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (at SUNY Buffalo).
Mr. Still has given numerous continuing legal education programs on Supreme Court cases, expert witnesses, federal jurisdiction, and the rights of public employees. He spoke at the Election Law & Litigation program of Fulcrum Information Services, Inc. (2001); the NELA-Georgia CLE conference on “Using the ’Class of One’ Equal Protection Theory in Public Employment Cases” (2005); the National Employment Lawyers Association annual meeting on “USERRA Basic Training for Employment Lawyers,” co-written with Mary Dryovage and Kathleen Piscitelli and presented at the 2005 annual meeting.
Voting after conviction for a crime
If you have been convicted of a crime and wish to register to vote, there are several steps you need to take.
Step 1 -- Felony or Misdemeanor?
The Alabama Constitution, Article VIII, Section 177 (Recompiled), now states:
(a) Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years and has resided in this state and in a county thereof for the time provided by law, if registered as provided by law, shall have the right to vote in the county of his or her residence. The Legislature may prescribe reasonable and nondiscriminatory requirements as prerequisites to registration for voting. The Legislature shall, by statute, prescribe a procedure by which eligible citizens can register to vote.
(b) No person convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude, or who is mentally incompetent, shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil and political rights or removal of disability.
So, if you have been convicted a crime, you can still vote (or register to vote for the first time) if it was only a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment for a year or less. The important thing dividing a felony from a misdemeanor is not the actual sentence you received, but the maximum you could have received for that crime.
Crimes punishable by more than a year are felonies. If you were convicted of a felony, you need to go on to Step 2.
Step 2 -- Who is barred from voting?
But if you were convicted of a felony (a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than a year), you may still be eligible to register and to vote if the felony was not "involving moral turpitude." Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy definition of this term. Let me give you some examples:
- manslaughter first degree,
- assault with intent to murder,
- assault first and second degree
- sodomy first degree
- income tax evasion
- selling illegal drugs or possession of drugs for sale
- desertion from the military in time of war
- possession of illegal drugs
- driving while intoxicated
- assault with a dangerous weapon
- liquor law violations
- desertion from the military in time of peace
Note: this list is based on my research of Alabama decisions. Because the Criminal Code was revised in 1977, the names of some crimes have been changed, I have tried to give the current names.
If you are eligible to vote, go to the Board of Registrars in your county to register. You may also download a voter registration form at the Secretary of State's website and send it in the Board.
If you are not eligible to register because of a felony involving moral turpitude, go to Step 3 to see if you can get a Certificate of Eligibility to Register.
Step 3 -- Obtaining a certificate allowing voter registration
If you have been disfranchised (that is, barred from voting) because of a felony conviction, you may apply to the Board of Pardons and Paroles for a Certificate of Eligibility for Voter Registration. If you have one of the following convictions, the Board cannot issue a Certificate:
In addition, you must not have any pending felony cases, must not owe any court ordered monies on disqualifying cases, must not owe any supervision fees, and must not be under sentence (off of probation, parole, not incarcerated, etc). This applies to either Certificates or Pardons.
If you meet the criteria, an investigation will be completed and a voting rights restoration certificate will be issued.
If you have been convicted of one of the crimes listed above, you may still be eligible for a pardon. Contact the Board.
Go to Step 4, contacting the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Step 4 -- Contacting the Pardons and Paroles Board
The Pardon Unit of the Board of Pardons and Paroles is responsible for processing investigations for Voter Rights Restoration, Pardons and Remissions of Fines and Forfeitures.
To make application for one of the above, an applicant may apply by one of the following methods:
1) Contacting the local State Probation and Parole Office in the area the applicant lives.
2) Contacting the Board of Pardons and Paroles by telephone at (334) 242-8700, choosing option 4 on the menu and then option 5 to speak with Pardon Unit Staff.
3) Contacting the Board of Pardons and Paroles in writing at P. O. Box 302405, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2405
The request should include all of the following information:
a) Name under which convicted
b) True name
c) Sex and race
d) Date of birth
e) Social Security Number
f) AIS# (Alabama Prison #), if you have one
g) Current physical address including county
h) Current mailing address if different from physical address
i) Indicate if the conviction was a State or Federal Conviction
j) Home telephone number, including area code
k) Work or alternate telephone number, including area code
l) Complete list of convictions, county of convictions and year of convictions
NOTE: The applicant should indicate if they are only interested in voting rights or both voting rights and a pardon. If the applicant is interested in a pardon, he/she should indicate if he/she needs a misdemeanor pardoned for purposes of obtaining a license (such as bonding or nursing, etc). If this is not indicated, it will be assumed that the applicant is only interested in having felony convictions pardoned.
Gooden v. Worley -- partial stay issued
Judge Robert S. Vance, Jr., has granted a partial stay of his judgment while the State appeals to the Alabama Supreme Court. The plaintiffs, represented by Ryan Haygood of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and me, had urged the court to issue only a partial stay -- although we had a few more bells and whistles in our proposed order.
The effect of this order is that those convicted of felonies involving moral turpitude may not register to vote unless their right to vote has been restored. Those convicted of a crime not involving moral turpitude may register to vote. For more details on crimes of moral turpitude, see this post
For details on the judgment, see this earlier post.
Gooden v. Worley -- state appeals the decision and asks for a stay
The Alabama Attorney General has appealed the decision in my felon voting rights case, Gooden v. Worley.
The Birmingham News reports this in a story entitled AG challenges felons' voting rights: Alabama's attorney general says a Jefferson County judge's ruling that would allow all felons to vote is "legally unsound." Friday, he notified the Alabama Supreme Court he plans to appeal.
Separately, Attorney General Troy King asked Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. to withhold his order that the ruling be immediately submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for a civil rights review. Vance set a Sept. 1 hearing on the request.
Vance ruled Tuesday that all felons must be allowed to register to vote until the state Legislature passes a law that defines crimes of moral turpitude. But Vance's order is not in force until it is approved by the Justice Department under the federal Voting Rights Act.
Vance said felons who have been convicted of crimes already determined to not involve moral turpitude must be allowed to vote immediately. Attorney general opinions and other legal precedents have determined a handful of crimes such as drunken driving do not involve moral turpitude.
Gooden v. Worley -- judgment issued by the Circuit Court
The Circuit Court of Jefferson County has issued a judgment on a case seeking to restore many felons' voting rights. Ryan Haygood of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and I represent the plaintiffs in this case. Here are the high points of the decree:
Gooden v. Worley: federal court dismisses case for lack of standing
On 26 May 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed a challenge to the practice of the Secretary of State of encouraging registrars to bar applicants convicted of any felony from registering. The State Constitution bars only those convicted of felonies involving moral turpitude. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and I had brought suit under Section of the Voting Rights Act to require the Secretary of State to cease this practice until she obtained preclearance for it. You can download the file here.
Commentary on absentee voting by our overseas citizens
My commentary on the bill that would set up a special method for overseas voters to cast a runoff ballot was published by the Birmingham News last Sunday. A complete copy of the piece is here.
Birmingham News publishes commentary on Gooden case
The Birmingham News has published a commentary by my co-counsel, Ryan Paul Haygood, on our Gooden v. Worley case. Ryan discusses the background of Mr. Gooden's case and what we are seeking. He notes that Secretary of State Nancy Worley is "is flouting Alabama's constitution and laws by advising county registrars throughout Alabama to refuse to register" people like Gooden who have been convicted of crimes that the Alabama Constitution does not list as disfranchising.
For a complete copy of the editorial commentary, click here.
For information on voting by absentee ballot in Alabama, click here.
Register to Vote (or change your registration)
Click here for an Alabama voter registration form you can fill out on line and then print for mailing to the board of registrars. If you are a resident of another state, click here to get a national voter registration form from the FEC.
If you have changed your residence within the county where you are registered, you may go to your old polling place (the one for your former residence), fill out a change of address form, and vote there. Section 8(e) of the National Voter Registration Act and Alabama Administrative Code 820-2-2-.13:
820-2-2-.13 Fail-Safe Voting.
(1) A registrant who has moved from an address in the area covered by one polling place to an address covered by a second polling place within the same Board of Registrar's jurisdiction and who has failed to notify the Board of Registrars of the change of address prior to the date of an election shall be permitted to correct the voting records with the registrant's new address and vote at the registrant's former polling place.
(2) In the event that an individual appears at a polling place on election day to vote and asserts to have registered to vote pursuant to Section 17-4-250, paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f), Code of Ala. 1975, but the individual's name does not appear on the official poll list, the individual shall be permitted to cast a challenge ballot and submit a new voter registration form at the polling precinct. Voter registration forms shall be made available at all polling places for this purpose.
My Cases: Other Election and Voting Rights Cases
Underwood v. Hunter, 604 F.2d 367 (5th Cir. 1979), 622 F.2d 1042 (5th Cir. 1980), 730 F.2d 614 (11th Cir. 1984), aff'd 471 U.S. 222 (1985) -- successful challenge of Alabama constitutional provision barring certain misdemeanants from voting
Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa, 525 F.2d 653 (5th Cir. 1975); 439 U.S. 60 (1978) -- challenge to police jurisdiction statutes
Kiel v. Purvis, 510 So.2d 190 (Ala 1987) -- successful attack on local law restricting campaigning on election day
Vintson v. Anton, 786 F.2d 1023 (11th Cir. 1986) -- successfully defended Democratic Party in Republican Party challenge to method of appointment of polling officials in Walker County
Phillips v. Beasley, 78 F.R.D. 207 (N.D. Ala. 1978), rev. & rem. sub nom. Phillips v. Andress, 634 F.2d 947 (5th Cir B 1981) -- challenge to practice of allowing non_residents to vote in school board elections
Creel v. Freeman, 531 F.2d 286 (5th Cir. 1976), cert. denied 429 US 1066 (1977) -- similar case to Phillips above
Hobson v. Pow, 434 F.Supp. 362 (N.D. Ala. 1977) -- declared Alabama Constitutional provision disenfranchising “wife beaters” to be unconstitutional under the federal constitution
League of Women Voters v. Renfro, 292 Ala 128, 290 So.2d 167 (1974) -- attacked Saturday closing of registrars
Prigmore v. Renfro, 356 F.Supp. 427 (N.D. Ala.) (three judge court) aff'd 410 US 919 (1974) -- attacked limitations on availability of absentee ballots
Whig Party v. Siegelman, 500 F.Supp. 1195 (N.D. Ala. 1980), injunction stayed pending appeal, appeal dismissed as moot (unreported) -- represented Alabama Democratic Party as amicus curiae in case challenging state election laws restricting nominations by small parties
Harris v. Conradi, 675 F.2d 1212 (11th Cir. 1982) -- defended Democratic Party in unsuccessful challenge by Republican Party to state statute allowing unequal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to be appointed as election officials
Harris v. Graddick, 593 F.Supp. 128, 601 F.Supp. 70 (M.D. Ala. 1984) -- represented Democratic Party (nominal defendants) in suit to reform method of selection of polling officials
Newman v. Hunt, 787 F.Supp. 193 (M.D. Ala. 1992) -- attacked racial discrimination in gubernatorial appointment to fill vacancy on county commission