Felony Convictions

If you have been convicted of a felony, defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 40–20–112, then you have lost your right to vote. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 2–19–143, 40–20–112.

Section 2–2–139 allows you to “restore” your right to vote if you:

  1. Have been pardoned and your rights have been restored;
  2. Your rights have been restored; or
  3. An appellate court (for example, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals) has reversed the conviction(s).

If you are eligible to have your voting rights restored, you must get the Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights filled out. You cannot fill this form out; you must get it filled out by one of the agencies listed on the form. The local telephone number for the State’s community supervision field office in Knox County is 865.582.2000. This field office serves Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hancock, Jefferson, Knox, Sevier, and Union Counties. Please keep in mind this form will only restore your voting rights; it does not restore all rights taken away by a felony conviction.

Some felony convictions will prohibit you from having your voting rights restored. Determining what convictions prevent you from having your rights restored can involve a complex tapestry of cases if your conviction was prior to July 1, 1986. If your conviction occurred on or after July 1, 1986, then the list of convictions that prohibits restoration of voting rights can be found at Tenn. Code Ann. § 40–29–204. If your conviction was after July 1, 2006, the convictions that will keep you from getting your voting rights restored are: voter fraud; treason; murder; rape; felony convictions under Title 39, Chapter 16, parts 1, 4, or 5; or any sexual offense or violent sexual offense under Tenn. Code Ann. § 40–39–202.

If your conviction is not one that prohibits restoring your voting rights, you must wait until the expiration of the maximum sentence for your convicted offense (even if you did not serve the maximum sentence). You must also pay all restitution and court costs (unless the court has found you to be indigent at the time of application) before you can have your voting rights restored. You must also be current in your child support obligations. Tenn. Code Ann. § 40–29–202.

If you have questions about whether you are eligible to have your voting rights restored, you may wish to contact an attorney. The Knoxville Bar Association provides a lawyer referral service to members of the public. You may reach the Knoxville Bar Association at 865.522.6522.

This website is provided as a courtesy by the Knox County Democratic Party. It is not meant to give legal advice; instead, this website simply provides a summary and reference point for laws addressing Tennessee elections. Voting laws are subject to change. Only a licensed attorney may provide legal advice.
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