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Ian McColgin
03-02-2016, 10:44 AM
[IMc - To me it's obvious that at the minimum once someone has served his or her time, that person should be able to vote. I'm actually not against incarcerated people voting but I'm not going to fight for that one, what with so many released and trying to rejoin society. One of the weird consequences of our federal system is that for something so basic to US citizenship as ability to vote in national (and state) elections, different states treat released offenders differently.]

Published on Tuesday, March 01, 2016, by The American Prospect

A Survey of Felon Voting Rights on Super Tuesday
Laws preventing ex-offenders from voting vary across the country, and disenfranchise millions.

by Nathalie Baptiste

Millions of Americans will cast ballots on Super Tuesday and in November, but many people will have no choice but to stay away from the polls. State felony disenfranchisement laws in 48 states prevent nearly six million citizens from exercising their voting rights, according to a 2015 Sentencing Project policy brief. More than two million, or nearly 40 percent, of these disenfranchised people are African American

Felon voting laws vary widely, from allowing convicts to vote while in prison to permanent disenfranchisement. Several Super Tuesday states allow some ex-offenders to vote if they meet certain conditions. Although Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe relaxed some of the rules regarding restoring voting rights to ex-felons, people who served time for violent offenses must wait three years before applying to have their rights restored. They also must not have any outstanding fines, damages owed to victims, or court costs. In the Old Dominion State, the racial disparities are particularly pronounced: 20 percent of black adults in Virginia are disenfranchised.

In Tennessee, people who have committed certain violent and sexual crimes are permanently banned from voting. Notably, the Volunteer State also bars ex-felons from voting if they are not up-to-date on child-support payments. But similar to Virginia, certain Tennessee ex-felons are eligible to vote: Those who are eligible can apply for restoration of their voting rights only after they have completed their entire sentence or fulfilled any parole or probation conditions and have paid any court-ordered restitution damages.

Wyoming, which holds its Republican caucus on Super Tuesday, passed a law in 2015 that required the state’s Department of Corrections to issue a certificate of voting rights to first-time, nonviolent offenders after their release from prison. Prior to this change, first-time nonviolent offenders in Wyoming could only apply to have their voting rights restored five years after completing parole and probation. (People convicted of violent or multiple offenses are permanently disenfranchised.)

The movement to end disenfranchisement has a broad base of support from criminal justice reform advocates and voting-rights advocates alike. And getting ex-offenders registered to vote is a successful re-entry strategy. “Over the last few decades, a lot of states have been taking positive steps,” says Tomas Lopez, a counsel at the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. “We want people civically engaged.”

Elsewhere, Maryland recently changed its policies on felony disenfranchisement. Democratic state lawmakers introduced a bill that sought to restore voting rights to felons upon their release from prison, rather than having people wait until they complete parole and probation.

The bills passed the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support only to be vetoed by Republican Governor Larry Hogan. However, state lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto, restoring voting rights to 40,000 Marylanders. “If you’re living and working in the community, you’re allowed to vote,” says Lopez, describing the new law.

In an attempt to alleviate overcrowded prisons, California lawmakers passed a series of bills in 2011 that would have placed low-level felony offenders under community supervision in county jails and allowed others to be monitored by county agencies instead of state parole boards.

But California’s then–Secretary of State Debra Bowen ruled that community supervision was essentially the same as being on parole, so felons being monitored by counties were still ineligible to vote. Three years later, civil-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of California, sued Bowen, asserting that the she had stripped tens of thousands of citizens of their right to vote.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo sided with the civil-rights groups, but the state appealed the ruling. Last year, current California Secretary of State Alex Padilla finally dropped the appeal, which effectively restored voting rights to 60,000 Golden State ex-offenders.

Kentucky made some strides and then saw a reversal. Former governor Steve Beshear, a Democrat, issued an executive order that restored voting rights to approximately 100,000 citizens with nonviolent felony convictions. However, new Republican Governor Matt Bevin reversed the order during his first days in office last December, saying that the matter must be left to the state lawmakers and the “will of the people.” Even though restoring the right to vote in Kentucky had bipartisan support, the Bluegrass State now rejoins Iowa and Florida as the three states that have permanently disenfranchised felons, no matter what type of crime they have committed.

This sort of backtracking is troubling. “Denying the right to vote to an entire class of citizens is deeply problematic to a democratic society and counterproductive to effective reentry,” the Sentencing Project concluded in its report.

© 2015 The American Prospect

Nathalie Baptiste is a Haitian-American contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She holds a BA and MA in International Studies and writes about Latin America and the Caribbean. You can follow her on Twitter at @nhbaptiste.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-02-2016, 10:48 AM
Odd. we in Britain are in dispute with the European Court of Justice because we disenfranchise people who are actually incarcerated for the duration of their incarceration; this is deemed a breach of their human rights. Of course they can vote on release. Peers and lunatics and the Royal Family, however, can never vote (but a peer who disclaims his or her seat, and a recovered lunatic, may do so...)

David W Pratt
03-02-2016, 12:27 PM
A much larger, and, ethically less charged, issue is non-participation.
The last Governor of RI, Lincoln Chaffee, was elected by a substantial majority of those voting. The turnout, however, was so low, that only 22% of the registered voters voted for him. to put it another way, 78% of the electorate did not vote for him.

S.V. Airlie
03-02-2016, 12:29 PM
Problem, state's rights! It would be great if the crimes, the punishments and the rights (voting in this case) were all the same in all the 50 states!

Ian McColgin
03-02-2016, 12:52 PM
Turn out is a problem. Reagan, much sainted, was elected by fewer people than were watching who shot JR.

CWSmith
03-02-2016, 01:00 PM
I do not understand the logic that a convicted felon can hold public office and make important decision, but cannot vote.

Personally, I think that even the black sheep of the family should still be heard by the rest. Voting is a right of citizenship for all.

NickW
03-02-2016, 02:26 PM
Odd. we in Britain are in dispute with the European Court of Justice because we disenfranchise people who are actually incarcerated for the duration of their incarceration; this is deemed a breach of their human rights. Of course they can vote on release. Peers and lunatics and the Royal Family, however, can never vote (but a peer who disclaims his or her seat, and a recovered lunatic, may do so...)

I had to do some googling to find out why, it's down to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forfeiture_Act_1870 and upheld in the various Representation of the Peoples Acts from 1884 to 2000. It 's notable although the ECHR ruled that an automatic absolute ban on prisoners voting was wrong, it allowed that in some cases a ban was appropriate, see http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/eu/cases/ECHR/2005/681.html&query=John+and+Hirst+and+voting+and+rights&method=boolean

Nick

dbrown
03-02-2016, 03:00 PM
I do not understand the logic that a convicted felon can hold public office and make important decision, but cannot vote.

Personally, I think that even the black sheep of the family should still be heard by the rest. Voting is a right of citizenship for all.
Cannot vote ,nor own a gun. Should we restore one right or all?

S.V. Airlie
03-02-2016, 03:02 PM
Cannot vote ,nor own a gun. Should we restore one right or all?In this case, just one, and not a firearm!

CWSmith
03-02-2016, 03:52 PM
Cannot vote ,nor own a gun. Should we restore one right or all?

How about this: If you used your vote to do bodily harm to someone, or threaten bodily harm, then you lose the right to vote. Ditto the gun. How's that?

Ian McColgin
03-02-2016, 04:06 PM
If you google felon ownership of firearms you'll find as bizarre a contradictory patchwork as with voting. It makes sense to move towards uniformity based on the relationship between the prior crime and the civil activity.

For example, there's really no reason to prevent a non-violent drug offender or ponzi scheme operator from obtaining suitable gun permits.

And violent felonies in general have nothing to do with voting, but someone convicted of felony voter fraud or vote tampering might well be barred from voting even after release.

And there are places where the standards will be radically different. Most mental health problems, even those that bar one from gun ownership, are not a barriers to voting.

Since almost nothing passes all at once, even where people largely agree, the sensible thing is to keep these issues separate and back reforms in voting and gun control that let you tack up to your goal even if the moment's course is not aimed right there.

CWSmith
03-02-2016, 04:52 PM
Most mental health problems, even those that bar one from gun ownership, are not a barriers to voting.

That one is going to be tough to enact.

Ian McColgin
03-02-2016, 04:54 PM
No need to enact. Such barriers do not exist.

CWSmith
03-02-2016, 04:57 PM
No need to enact. Such barriers do not exist.

I mean to put such a barrier in place. If we tell the mentally ill, or more correctly their families, that they have lost the right to vote, I think there will be an outcry in this country. The claim will be, perhaps correctly, that it will be too easy to take away and too difficult to restore. It will also be charged to be punitive, a stigma, and unnecessary. I understand the logic, but it would be a very difficult law to pass.

johnw
03-02-2016, 05:18 PM
It seems like getting people who are incarcerated to participate in society in legal ways would be a good thing, and integrating them in society after their incarceration ends would be even more important.

I suppose it could make sense to deprive them of the vote if they were imprisoned for sedition, but even there, the non-violent expression of their views would be an improvement.

S.V. Airlie
03-02-2016, 06:32 PM
The next question I have, my stepmother, her dementia started in around 2010. It got regularly worse. After 2011, she gave up her lic. Just not able to drive. I expected a fight. She voted in 2012 in the gen. and in state races through 2015. Her daughter took her to vote! I wonder, did her daughter vote for her? I mean, she wanted to vote but, healthwise did she vote what she wanted to vote for? I somehow doubt it.

JimD
03-02-2016, 06:37 PM
Meanwhile, in Canada


Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote provided he or she is 18 on election day, and can prove his or her identity and address. Canadians with criminal records vote in the same manner as other Canadians. http://www.answers.com/Q/Can_you_vote_with_a_criminal_record_in_Canada

Canadians can vote while still incarcerated, as well.


There are currently 14,044 Canadians incarcerated in federal prisons — including 35 with dual citizenship — and 8,101 under CSC's community supervision. All are eligible to vote, even if they are held in segregation. Thousands of inmates in provincial jails are also eligible to vote.
Political candidates are allowed to campaign in prisons, but are subjected to the same rules and policies as any visitor to a prison, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-prisoners-voting-1.3202010

S.V. Airlie
03-02-2016, 06:39 PM
Jeez Cruz coulda voted!

Reynard38
03-02-2016, 07:59 PM
Can't be an airline pilot either. To hold an ATP (airline transport pilot certificate) requires an applicant to have "good moral character".
The courts have said;

“With regard to pilots, good moral character is established as a requirement only for the holders of airline transport pilot certificates. Only the holders of these certificates may act as pilots-in-command of common carrier aircraft, and it is evident that the requirement that such persons be of good moral character reflects the responsibilities and duties entrusted to them…. Section [61.153(c)] reflects the Administrator’s determination that a person entrusted with these responsibilities must not merely comply with specific requirements of technical competence but also must display a firmness and stability of moral character that indicates his ability and willingness to assume such responsibilities. It is essential that he possess to a high degree an awareness of the responsibilities entrusted to him irrespective of his own desires.”

KMacDonald
03-02-2016, 09:11 PM
Convicted felons should never be allowed to vote-----or democrats for that matter.

Rigadog
03-02-2016, 11:16 PM
Convicted felons should never be allowed to vote-----or democrats for that matter.


Why so bitter?

Nicholas Carey
03-02-2016, 11:44 PM
A much larger, and, ethically less charged, issue is non-participation.
The last Governor of RI, Lincoln Chaffee, was elected by a substantial majority of those voting. The turnout, however, was so low, that only 22% of the registered voters voted for him. to put it another way, 78% of the electorate did not vote for him.


Hence...

http://cdn.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/1346174590961_7699338.png

http://cdn.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/if-you-dont-vote-then-i-sure-as-hell-do-not-want-to-ever-listen-to-you-moan-and-bitch-about-the-state-of-the-government-just-saying--5985c.png

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-F8wnGGgyky8/VYBmqYyPwPI/AAAAAAAACgE/jl2d0uW4H6Q/s1600/plato-the-price-of-apathy-towards-public-affairs-is-to-be-ruled-by-evil-men.jpg

And maybe more to the point...

😱

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/85/62/33/856233004b29f60f6bb31514d21a42a8.jpg

Sailor
03-03-2016, 02:47 AM
Somehow nobody picked up on the fact that Royals and Loonatics cannot vote... Could a Royal vote if they were recovered? :D

skuthorp
03-03-2016, 04:38 AM
Can 'loonatics' stand for office? The evidence would say they can.:ycool:

NickW
03-03-2016, 02:40 PM
Can 'loonatics' stand for office? The evidence would say they can.:ycool:

Don't know about 'loonatics' but there's plenty of clowns in office.

Nick