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Tennessee may ease ex-cons’ voting restrictions

The Republican-majority Tennessee legislature has begun moving a bill that would end the state's unique requirement that convicted felons may only start voting again if they prove they're current on child support payments and have paid any fines or restitutions connected to their crimes.

The legislation is being pushed by both the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group aligned with the Koch brothers.

Advocates say the current system makes it largely impossible for low-income felons to vote again. An estimated 320,000 Tennesseans (about 8 percent of the state's adult population) are convicted felons but fewer than 12,000 have seen their voting rights restored in the last 25 years, according to a report by Think Tennessee, a nonprofit think-tank.

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