My name is Alfonzo Tucker and I have lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama all my life.
In the 2018 midterms, I would have wanted to weigh in on local matters, particularly because the mayor of my city was up for election for governor of the state – and I wanted to make sure that his pre-K education initiative and the city services he helped implement – continued to move forward. These are some of the issues I care about. But I couldn’t. My home state of Alabama, where I’ve lived since 1967, took away my voting rights for owing them four dollars. This is my story.
The state sent me a letter in 2013 saying I had “committed a crime of moral turpitude”, and that they were removing me from the voter rolls. This hurt me deeply. I was upset and surprised because I had voted since the late ‘90s, and as recently as the 2012 presidential election.
When I served my time behind bars, I read stories about a field organizer for the NAACP, a young man named Medgar Evers of Decatur, Mississippi, who was registering black people to vote in the early ‘60s. He was killed for doing civil rights work. His story motivated me to get my voting rights back and try to make a difference.
The process of having my rights restored started when I paid my restitution. I owed $135, and thought that paying this would allow me to participate in the 2018 midterm elections. My cousin gave me Blair Bowie’s number and urged me to call her. Blair is an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center. I gave Blair a call. Once we spoke and I sent her my information and receipts, Blair determined that I actually owed only four dollars. So the state mishandled my paperwork – and I couldn’t vote in the 2018 midterms over four dollars.
While missing out on 2018 is upsetting, I am currently registered to vote and plan to vote in the 2020 election. I’ll be voting because of Medgar Evers and all those that have fought racism.