Voting

Why Released Felons Should Be Allowed to Vote

Ban harms those who want to reintegrate back into society.

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Cell
Credit: mikecogh / photo on flickr

America has 2.2 million jail and prison inmates, and everyone worries about what will happen when they get out. Some of us worry that they will seek out new victims and commit new crimes. Some of us worry that they will head to the nearest courthouse and register to vote. 

Last week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an order restoring voting rights to convicted felons once they are no longer in prison, on parole or on probation. Previously, they were barred from voting for life. 

He made his decision out to be one of simple humanity. "I want you back in society," he said of ex-convicts. "I want you voting, getting a job, paying taxes." 

Republicans, however, saw nakedly partisan motives. "The singular purpose of Terry McAuliffe's governorship is to elect Hillary Clinton president of the United States," said Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell. 

How would changing the rules on voting help Clinton and other Democrats? The thinking is that ex-convicts, who are disproportionately black and poor, would vote much like other low-income African-Americans. 

As Ted Cruz has put it, "the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats" (a claim PolitiFact rated "mostly false"). So adding them to the rolls would penalize Republicans. 

McAuliffe is shocked at the idea that he would consciously strive to increase the number of Democratic votes. "Honestly, I haven't thought about it," he said. 

This profession of ignorance came from a man who served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. His partisan devotion is so intense that he once wrestled an alligator in exchange for a $15,000 donation to Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign. If McAuliffe didn't think about the electoral effects of his decision, it's for the same reason he doesn't think about gravity. 

Those effects, however, are smaller than the GOP fears. Plenty of states that let former prison inmates vote are solidly Republican—including Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Felons may make as little difference in Virginia as they do in those places. 

The number is not that big anyway. McAuliffe's order affected 200,000 people in a state where 3.9 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election. If these felons all voted, they'd increase the total number of votes cast by just 5 percent. 

Even that figure greatly overstates their impact, because most will never go near a polling place. Oddly enough, many convicted felons do not feel a solemn duty to exercise the franchise. In places where they are allowed to vote, turnout rates are even lower than in the public at large. 

Republicans are right that McAuliffe's order suits his political interests. But his possibly cynical motives shouldn't be the end of the discussion. The Ku Klux Klan values the First Amendment, but that doesn't make free expression a bad thing. 

The test in a case like this is to ask what policy would be wise if there were no partisan consequences. By that yardstick, restoring the voting rights of criminals once they've paid their debt to society makes far more sense than excluding them for life. 

As McAuliffe noted, Virginia's ban had unsavory purposes. It was adopted in 1902 along with poll taxes and literacy tests in a determined effort to preserve white supremacy. Back then, a state senator noted approvingly that the restrictions would "eliminate the darky as a political factor" in the state. The racial impact of such bans is still lopsided. 

Even more important is that they provide nothing of value. If the prospect of incarceration doesn't deter criminals, losing the right to vote certainly doesn't. We don't permanently strip criminals of freedom of speech or religion, the right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches or the right against self-incrimination. Why deprive them of the vote? 

The obvious exception is the Second Amendment right to own a gun, which felons lose. But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities. 

The chief result of disenfranchising former inmates is to discourage them from changing their ways and fully integrating into society. The people likely to be obstructed from voting are not the incorrigible criminals but the reformed ones. They get jobs, pay taxes and keep their noses clean—the sort of behavior that Republicans, as well as Democrats, should want to encourage. 

There are lots of bad things criminals can do once they're released back into society. Voting isn't one of them.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

NEXT: The Fourth Amendment and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

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  1. So we attribute dastardly ulterior motives to the Repubs (not unlikely) but take the Dem govenor wholly at his word that the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind? How naively trusting of you, Chapman!

    1. McAuliffe is shocked at the idea that he would consciously strive to increase the number of Democratic votes. “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” he said.

      This profession of ignorance came from a man who served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. His partisan devotion is so intense that he once wrestled an alligator in exchange for a $15,000 donation to Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. If McAuliffe didn’t think about the electoral effects of his decision, it’s for the same reason he doesn’t think about gravity.

      You’re mistaking Chapman’s comments. Clearly Chapmen doesn’t find McAuliffe’s “shock” and “profession of ignorance” credible.

    2. It is very Chapman of him, isn’t it? I’m she he’s squeezing with glee at Virginia gaining lots of new votes for his girl Hillary.

  2. Also gonna need a better argument than “we should let them vote something something it’s the right thing to do”. You’ll notice that their restored rights are not extended to firearms…

    1. Well, yeah, they don’t think you have a right to that! Of course, if they were suspicious that a significant number of ex-felons voted Republican something tells me their moral outrage would be somewhat diminished.

    2. Actually no, it is the states job to justify why they feel they need to strip a citizen of their rights. “Criminals bad” is not justification in itself. Why should criminals not have the right to vote after serving their time? If you can’t make a good argument then they should have the right.

      Also not sure why Liberterians would be against this from a political standpoint. As someone who has been locked up from time to time in my youth for weed or drinking, I hated the Dems and Repubs for their silly laws protecting society from me an otherwise decent law abiding citizen. It was my interactions with law enforcement that drove me to the Libertarian party.

    3. 2.2 million is more than the total votes cast in Colorado. If the victimless among them (prolly 2/3) can be recruited to vote libertarian that could make a difference. Those people were railroaded and branded by the efforts of the 2% that voted the Prohibition Party slate until the Methodist White Terror amendment passed, foreshadowing the Crash and Great Depression. Coloradans cast over 800,000 libertarian votes in 2012…

  3. ” But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities.”

    Yeah, about that…

    1. I keep both in the trunk of my car. You never know when you will need them.

      1. Al Franken knew that. He was smart enough to bring a trunkful of ballots to a gunfight, and won.

        1. Al Franken’s vote recount was 245% of the original vote count.
          Has anyone seen today’s Dilbert cartoon? Adams finally got around to reading Lysander Spooner, by the looks of it… Unverifiable secret ballots are an incentive for vote fraud–especially if it excludes libertarians.

    2. ” But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities.”

      Yeah, about that…

      Ballot box stuffing is a time-horonored criminal tradition in some areas, and it requires ballots. The knock on effects of the crime are also severely criminal in the abuses rendered by those “elected” though this process.

      Or was that what you were implying?

    3. If I’m committing a crime, I’m just going to go get myself an illegal gun. Like nearly everyone else who commits crimes with them.

      1. Considering the advanced level of ballistics science, and how absurdly easy it is to trace registered, legally owned firearms, no one except a complete moron would use their own gun to commit a crime.

    4. There’s gun violence, but then there’s political violence. If they’re willing to give ex-felons the tools for political violence, there’s no reason to keep them from the tools of physical violence.

  4. Why would anyone quote Politifact in a column?

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  6. As Ted Cruz has put it, “the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats” (a claim PolitiFact rated “mostly false”).

    Have you actually looked at the Politifact analysis on this? They’re always biased in their analysis against Repubs, but they at least usually provide enough info to do an honest analysis.

    They’re basically quibbling with Cruz over the specific terms he uses, which in fact aren’t the precise ones to use for the problem in question.

    Using *released felons* in the states analyzed, which is what is relevant for an analysis of which party wins by letting released felons vote, the data is clear that released felons identify as Dems over Repubs by 2,3 and 4 times as often.

    1. Miscreants only vote Dem by elimination of the other fascists. They have never learned that the LP converts votes into repealed laws 10 times more efficiently. That’s the case for voting libertarian.

  7. Dear sir, I am opposed to restoring the sufferage to the New York State Legislators, who have proven to be quite felonious and politically corrupt. They should be kept as far from the political process as possible.

    1. Ahem…

      It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
      – Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar

  8. Why deprive them of the vote?

    A vote is a gun to your neighbor’s head. Felons have demonstrated that they use power in an antisocial manner.

    Felons losing some civil rights permanently has been a part of the Western tradition since Greek and Roman times.
    Historical Timeline
    US History of Felon Voting / Disenfranchisement

    1. The obvious exception is the Second Amendment right to own a gun, which felons lose. But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities.

      Ooops. Aren’t you supposed to be a libertarian?

      Ballots can’t be useful in criminal activities? The government commits no crimes, you say?

      If released felons shouldn’t have guns, they shouldn’t have power to direct the guns of the government.

      1. Yeah. Explain how the tax code and welfare state aren’t the largest criminal enterprise in human history. Now explain how guns aren’t highly useful in that endeavor.

        But chapman is Gillespie’s kind of libertarian.

      2. Another GOP infiltrator in libertarian drag…

    2. Yes, and this is likely because the government has something of an interest in keeping felons from electing people who will make whatever their felony was retroactively not a felony thus freeing them of any onus they fell under for that felony.

      I’m not saying this is a great reason to keep them from voting or anything, especially in todays world where there are so many bullshit felonies, but during a time when committing a felony meant you did more than ‘wrongthink’ it made a lot more sense. Considering that criminal justice reform is apparently either impossible or very improbable, it might behoove them to consider what the felony was before restoring voting rights. Perhaps they are, I don’t know, but I also don’t care since I don’t live in Virginia.

      Also, I doubt Virginia is in any particular danger of becoming a solid red state any time soon but I fully admit I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the Northeast.

  9. The thinking is that ex-convicts, who are disproportionately black and poor, would vote much like other low-income African-Americans.

    “Poor people don’t vote. I mean, that’s just a fact.”

  10. As in other states where felon voting rights are restored by the governor or by the automatic operation of law, the right to bear arms is denied to convicted felons even when their voting rights are restored.

    This means the law doesn’t trust them to bear arms personally, but *does* trust them to hire others to bear arms in their behalf.

    1. Precisely. None or both. This just shows that they’re playing games.

  11. They would like for us to pay for a promoted comment, but can’t give us an edit button.

    “On select articles (lies, it’s on every one), Reason is testing a new comment promotion feature developed by SolidOpinion.” (An edit button campaign would have garnered more donations, hell even adding emojis based on our handles would make more that this pay for “look at me!!!!” stuff)

    1. They can’t monetize the edit button… unless they charge per edit… and they could charge more to let you edit someone else’s comments…

  12. If I don’t trust you with a firearm, I sure as Hell don’t trust you with a vote.

  13. Oh, where to begin?

    Yes, 200,000 votes is a small percentage of total Virginia voters, but it’s a lot larger than the margin of victory in a number of state-wide elections. McAuliffe himself won by fewer votes.

    Second, a major element of the complaining has to do with McAuliffe’s blanket order, as (it is argued) that Virginia law requires restoring voting rights to be done on an individual basis (similar to the complaint over Obama’s immigration policies). Even if one agrees with the objective, one should follow the rules in place, shouldn’t they? Or is it okay to break the rules if it’s in the pursuit of a good objective?

    You rightly point out that if something is good, we don’t abandon it just because some bad people get to take advantage of it. The same standard should apply to this case: if taking away voting rights from convicts is a good thing, it ought not matter what the initial motivation was.

    Who claims losing the right to vote is a deterrent?

    Next, on the list of items that would ‘motivate’ a convict to get his or her life in order, restoring voting rights has to be way, way, way down the list. Getting a job and a place to live are key to reintegrating convicts back into society. ‘Hey, I have no job, and nobody will rent me a place to live, but I can vote, so all is right with the world’ is something no convict has ever said.

    Other than that, great piece.

  14. The felonious will vote, then after break in your homes and cure that lonely lust. Rip off your pants and lick away that booty rust, grab your neck and for short call you Crust. Although you know you want it so bad, you play like it’s not a must, you lie to yourself and say if you don’t do it they’ll pounce you into dust, so stop playing, you even know where you want them to bust.

  15. The problem is not that felons can’t vote. The problem is that too many things that should not even be crimes are considered felonies. Chapman is dumber than usual if he thinks committing a serious crime that has a real victim shouldn’t disqualify you from voting. If you are a thief or someone who has victimized others, what right do you have to have a say in the government. This really is the social contract. If you are a felon, and I mean a real one not a deemed one, you have violated your end of the bargain with everyone else. Sorry, thieves and murderers shouldn’t get a say in how things are run.

    1. I don’t believe in punishing people after they’ve been released from incarceration. Either they’ve paid their debt to society or they haven’t.

      1. I agree. My compromise would be: Get rid of all of the BS laws (there are oodles, and put the screws to the criminals with real victims. After they’ve paid their debt, they can vote again.

      2. I don’t think losing the right to vote is a punishment. I think voting is part of a larger bargain we have with the rest of society. If you blow your end of that bargain by victimizing someone, you can’t complain when society takes back its side. That isn’t punishment. That is fairness.

        And I don’t have it out for felons. I would be okay with purging criminal records after so many years. But I don’t think they should vote.

        1. That is very French of you John.

        2. “I don’t think losing the right to vote is a punishment. I think voting is part of a larger bargain we have with the rest of society.”

          I absolutely agree. And I point to the high recidivism rate as proof that doing the time is not the same as true rehabilitation. In other words, many criminals who have served their full prison sentences are ready to go right back into “debt to society” again by committing yet another crime.

          One could argue then that the original prison sentence was too short–if prosecutors and judges are routinely making prison sentences too short for so many felons, then is it wise to restore voting rights so soon? Perhaps it is better for society to wait and see if the released felon has really been rehabilitated, OR increase prison sentences for repeat offenders until doing the time does match the time it takes to rehabilitate. (All this ignores the fact that some people cannot be rehabilitated at all.)

      3. So you’d be OK with life in prison? but not losing your voting rights, once you are released?

        I’ll bet the felons themselves would have different preferences.

    2. Sorry, thieves and murderers shouldn’t get a say in how things are run.

      While I don’t disagree with the premise, the implementation leaves *much* to be desired.

      I’d rather let ex-felons vote than let them hold office. Especially in light of the ‘obligation to disobey unjust laws’ that you’re traipsing around.

      1. Again, the problem is the laws not the idea. Given the number of bullshit laws we have and the fact that they are not going away, it may be that letting felons vote is the best of the available bad set of options.

      2. Wait, if we don’t let the felons hold office what will the lying scum politicians? do to be able to steal from us?

    3. Once a nationalsocialist, always a nationalsocialist.
      In Texas in the 1960s a handful of hemp seeds branded 18-yeal-olds felons

  16. I like how the Gov includes “paying taxes” as part of a felons integration back into society. I didn’t realize that Felons were tax exempt. It might explain why the US has so many.

    1. Good catch!

      If you think about it, in a way, many felons ARE tax-exempt. If you are a white-collar felony embezzler or a felony burglar by profession, you almost certainly aren’t reporting your stolen income to the IRS.

      Likewise with felony drug traffickers or felony sex slave traffickers.

      1. Mmmmmmm………sex slaves……….

  17. Do we really believe people who have committed force or fraud against their neighbors should be allowed to help direct our politicians? Not only no but hell no. You can’t be anything resembling sane and think that is a good idea. The only reason the right to vote should exist is as a tool to protect us from tyranny. You don’t give such a tool to tyrants.

    1. The way I think about it is this: a criminal (not just felons, but those who have committed misdemeanors) has broken the social contract against the public. That’s why it’s “People vs. Criminal.”

      If you entered a high-stakes contract with someone and they broke the contract with you, would you be so eager to re-enter into another contract with them? No, you would probably either refuse to re-contract with them forever or require that they go through a lengthy process of earning your trust back. One might argue that prison-time-served is enough for a felon to earn trust back, but I do not agree. Completing the punishment is not the same as rehabilitation for many, many criminals, as the high repeat-offender rate proves.

      Interestingly, denying a felon their gun RIGHTS doesn’t make sense if what they did is only break the social contract (via a non-violent but still serious crime, for example). God-given rights are supposed to be above human contracts, right? Voting is not a God-given right; it is very much a part of the mechanism of a social contract. If voting is part of the social contract, and the felons’ lost trust mentioned above results in society refusing to ever re-enter into a social contract with felons, then voting would not be restored to felons.

      McAuliffe is basically making a mistake of re-trusting felons before they have re-earned the public’s trust.

      1. The problem with most of your rationale is what articulated manner could ex-criminals earn public trust back? I think most people think people who mess up deserve a second chance and finishing your time is the typical dividing line.

        I agree with your gun rights comment. Everyone should be able to protect themselves. If you are in jail, then the guards are supposed to protect you.

        Plus, most people break the law everyday. We have so many laws and many people are not even aware of what many laws say, there is an epidemic of law breaking in the USA. Depending on what state you live in:

        Do you jaywalk? misdemeanor
        Do you go 1 mph over the speed limit? misdemeanor
        Do you drive after drinking “a few drinks” even though your BAC is below .08? misdemeanor
        Have you lied on any bank form? felony (bank fraud)
        Have you send false material over the internet or in the mail? felony (wire/mail fraud)
        Have you used someone else’s passcode to enter a website (even a family member)? felony

        Be careful about the high horse, because you might fall off sometime.

        1. “The problem with most of your rationale is what articulated manner could ex-criminals earn public trust back?”
          By the rationale that already existed. A bit more than just passing the time in the pokey – talk about a low bar, in some states simply having “good behavior” by prison standards gets half your time cut off.
          Before The Punk’s blanket restoring of voting rights – heck, even his has a requirement the felon finish probation or parole – ex-felons could petition for this to happen, along with some kind of evidence they had “turned their life around” so society could feel confident they had rehabilitated themselves and were deserving of having the franchise restored.

      2. public school=government school, public park=government park, public trust=?

    2. ^this x 100

    3. Do we really believe people who have committed force or fraud against their neighbors should be allowed to help direct our politicians?

      Do you really believe politicians won’t or haven’t already figured out force and fraud without their help?

      Would you mind detailing how, exactly, you see a Charles Manson or a Bernie Madoff, especially once in a prison cell, making the world worse by voting? I mean, what’s the big fear? That we’ll elect someone who starts/continues a pointless war and gets Americans killed or that he/she will just start executing people at large with no real verifiable/legal justification?

      I get the whole social contract thing, that voting isn’t a constitutional right and generally agree that felons probably shouldn’t vote from prison; but, the notion that a fraudster or a murder maintains some sort of mythically evil social status once publicly known to be a criminal or that their votes were all valid and sensible right up until they committed the crime and/or were caught/convicted just seems like a nonsensical voting animism to me. The only practical reason I see denying voting to felons/criminals is specifically due to election/voter fraud or illegal immigration (as a means to voter fraud).

  18. Some times rational thinkers might have to play the odds. Of course unjustly jailed people should be able to vote.
    I have a sneaking suspicion, however, that the vast majority of low level offenders would either not vote or certainly vote for the free shit guy.

    If we cannot ban non-tax payers from voting, then maybe we should not bother with the ex felon voting issue.

    This falls under the bigger fish to fry libertarian worry column.

    1. I think I’ll vote for whomever says breaking and entering is legal. That way, the next time I do so, I’ll get my free shit directly instead of waiting with my hand out!

    2. This falls under the bigger fish to fry libertarian worry column.

      ^This^

      Universal Suffrage for felons *current* and past couldn’t possibly be as damaging to the public and America at large as 8 yrs. of HRC and is generously a split-decision wrt the last 8-16 yrs. of the Presidency. It’s not like a vote for Cthulhu (or Cincinnatus) magically gets worse (or better) because it was cast by Hitler (or Hayek).

      Even on a smaller scale, George Ryan, Scooter Libby, Dennis Hastert, etc. it becomes unclear whether their ‘violation of public trust’ or their actual crimes were more morally/socially wrong but, IMO, it’s still pretty clear that whatever popular votes they may’ve cast in general elections is *way* down that list.

      I guess with Cthulhu and Hitler, the vote *could* magically get worse.

      1. I have yet to hear a convincing argument why public “servants” should vote. that seems like a much bigger hole through which to subvert democracy (or whatever)

  19. http://dailycaller.com/2016/04…..xperience/

    Black guy watches playoff hockey for the first time and tweets about it. I am not even that big of a hockey fan and I find this funny.

  20. Next you’re going to want to let women vote. Then we’ll be in debt to our eyeballls.

    1. Mommy values doomed the Republic.

      1. Ain’t that the truth?
        All those “Julias” out there have distorted what voting was supposed to accomplish – giving us good leadership – and substituted government-as-provider.

  21. I’m fine with released felons being able to vote, but I cringe every time I see the term “ex-felon.” It is only in the clickable headline for this article (and thus perhaps an editor’s mistake, rather than the author’s), but its use is particularly ironic in light of the recent article about “sloppy language, sloppy thoughts.” “Ex-felon” is a nonsense term. A convicted felon is a felon, even after finishing a prison sentence (maybe someone who is pardoned is an “ex-felon,” but that’s not how the term is used). This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but using a slippery euphemism is disingenuous and detracts from the argument.

    1. You know you felons, “ex-felons” and anyone else are hard to tell apart?

      Felonies used to be reserved for serious offenses usually involving death like horse thieving, spying and murder. Misdemeanors included perjury, theft and assault which tend to be felonies now. Plus, America has a long history of being the place for second chances which would make lifetime punishments unAmerican.

      If we fixed the criminal justice system to actually give fair trials with Due Process and judges, prosecutors and police were not so conspiring then I might be more on board with your line of rationale.

      1. I don’t disagree that too much is criminalized. My only point is that the term is illogical as applied to felons who have finished serving a sentence. The word “felon” simply means “someone who has been convicted of a felony” (Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th; other dictionaries have similar definitions). A “felony” is generally a crime that involves imprisonment. True, many of these people shouldn’t be “felons” to begin with, because their crimes shouldn’t be felonies; but they are felonies, so they are felons. I’m not saying that, because they fall within the definition of “felon,” they shouldn’t be able to vote or have other rights. But the argument isn’t advanced by slippery euphemistic language.

        1. I get your main point that “ex-felon” is used badly.

          Thanks for your followup.

  22. “But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities.”

    I laughed so hard upon reading this, I think I may have torn something inside. Ballots can be used to commit massive crimes on a scale much larger than any firearm–just look at the anthropogenic global warming/green energy crony capitalists. They will steal billions of dollars from everyday Americans for decades over what will eventually be objectively proven a fraud. No one will go to prison from the AGW-alarmist side (even as they call for jailing AGW-skeptics), and the money will never be returned. And that is just one example of one type of crime perpetrated by voting. What about Social Security, the elderly stealing from generations not yet born?

    1. I always tell people, “All the smart criminals are in politics.”

    2. Social Security is the government stealing from all the workers and employers.
      If the money paid by everyone had been invested, instead of going down the rat hole of government spending, there would have been more than enough to pay the pittance that Social Security recipients get.
      That FICA deduction on your paycheck is supposed to be half of your contribution – the other half is paid by your boss – to a supposed insurance policy to be paid out later.
      It works for private pension set-ups, without having to use current payments to pay off past investors (See: Schemes, Ponzi), where the contributions are invested and earn a rate of return.
      That the government system doesn’t work is not because the recipients are “stealing from generations not yet born” but because the government has never shown any kind of return on the money.
      FICA stands for Federal Insurance Contribution Act – the name alone is fraud.

  23. I’m making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss. This is what I do,

    ——————— http://www.Profit80.com

  24. In the 2000 Presidential election, the one where the results in Florida caused George W. Bush to be elected due to winning a razor-thin margin there, one of the main problems was the overly-aggressive purging of names from the voter rolls because, it was claimed, they just might be felons. It turned out that most of the people prevented from voting because it was thought they might be convicted felons were in fact NOT convicted felons – see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Central_Voter_File. If not for the people improperly prevented from voting as a result, Al Gore would have been elected President. So this is a sensitive issue, and it isn’t really about whether ex-convicts should be able to vote or not, it is about whether people who it is claimed just might be ex-convicts can be prevented from voting.

    1. “W” may not have been great shakes but I can’t tell you how many demoncraps quietly told me how glad they were that ALGORE had lost, on 9/12/01.
      His response would have been along the lines of how much the globe’s “fever” had spiked.

    2. “If not for the people improperly prevented from voting as a result, Al Gore would have been elected President.”

      There were so many irregularities on both sides that statements like that are ridiculous.

  25. Sorry, but the overwhelming majority of felons, criminals or violent criminals (whatever you like) DO register as democrats up0n release (who CARES what they may have been beforehand. REALLY!)

    1. You have support for that, I presume?

      The ex-jailbirds that I know are Libertarian and/or fiscal conservatives. After all, if the government has less money and less laws they wouldn’t have been to prison at all. Democrats are big Nanny Staters- which means many prohibitions- which means more jailbirds.

      1. Because a sample of people a reason reader knows is certain to be an unbiased sample, entirely representative of the population at Large.

        1. Libertarians knowing people being described is still a sample. Great sample- no. A sample based on something is better than the supposed “overwhelming majority of felons, criminals or violent criminals” comment which is based on __________ .

  26. “The obvious exception is the Second Amendment right to own a gun, which felons lose. But firearms, unlike ballots, can be highly useful in criminal activities. ”

    You obviously are not paying attention to the criminal activities coming out of Washington DC.

    #1 Promoted comment: “Finally, even if they are designed to punish, it is a costless way of punishing violent criminals who (unlike people in their for drug violations) often get sentences that are too short (many murderers get less than a decade in jail.”
    Then fix the problem of short sentences. Stop allowing these bureaucrats to decide who gets to do what and when. If you are not in jail, you can vote. If you are not in jail then you can own a gun. If you are not in jail then you can run for office.

  27. On the one hand, Chapman says, “The chief result of disenfranchising former inmates is to discourage them from changing their ways and fully integrating into society.”

    On the other hand, he says. “….most will never go near a polling place. Oddly enough, many convicted felons do not feel a solemn duty to exercise the franchise. In places where they are allowed to vote, turnout rates are even lower than in the public at large. ”

    So if they rarely want to vote, how is not being allowed to vote discouraging them from fully integrating. Plenty of non-felons don’t vote. Show me the felon who says “I would have gone straight and become a productive member of society … but they wouldn’t let me vote!” (drops head of his victim).

    “The people likely to be obstructed from voting are not the incorrigible criminals but the reformed ones. They get jobs, pay taxes and keep their noses clean?the sort of behavior that Republicans, as well as Democrats, should want to encourage. ”

    Citation needed. You can’t make a claim like that without substantiating it. Seems like a decent percentage of career criminals would be inclined to vote for soft-on-crime policies that favored their lawlessness. (And the number of felons that vote Democrat would seem to support that).

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  29. And here I thought that getting more names on the rolls was being done with the intent of aiding Democrat vote fraud.

  30. Politifact has no credibility,they just said that a person who thinks they’re of the opposite gender “factually ARE that other gender”,despite the clear physical and genetic proof otherwise.

  31. Given the number of elected officials who become felons, felons should be allowed to vote. After all, it’s their club.

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  35. Every “felon” I know was so branded for hemp, mescaline or something just as harmless, usually at age 18. As soon as I meet someone the nationalsocialist republicans have had in the slammer I offer them a ride to register to vote (in Texas rights are restored) and recite highlights of the LP platform to them. These folks know firsthand the Gestapo tactics and ku-klux prohibitionist mentality that put them there, and naturally inclined to vote libertarian. Look at the asset forfeiture figures for the 2007 Crash and Depression. Divide those billions by homes and cars and explain this is how they can de-claw the secret ballot robbers and murderers who sent them up for some victimless bullshit.
    Texas voted 3% libertarian these past mid-terms.

  36. Sounds to me like these are the 2 million people who will spoil votes for the next presidential election, and get a mess of laws repealed.

  37. # Hans Bader: You said “Contrary to what he claims, there is not a broad constitutional right to vote, the way there is a constitutional right to free speech. The 15th Amendment specifically allows felons to be denied the right to vote.” Wrong.

    The 13th Amendment: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    So punishment for a crime is a permissible “involuntary servitude”.

    The 15th Amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    So the 15th Amendment specifically gives the right to vote to those who suffered “a previous condition of servitude”. Once you have finished your sentence or probation or parole, your servitude was “previous” and you cannot be denied the right to vote.

    Not to mention that you can be charged with a felony for almost anything, like importing seafood for sale in plastic bags instead of boxes (Lacey Act violation) or for lying to the FBI about a crime you didn’t commit (Martha Stewart).

    I suggest you read “Three Felonies a Day” by Harvey Silverglate to see how absurd a voting prohibition is as applied to felons.

  38. i’ve never quite understood why people think it’s some great punishment to deny convicted felons the right to vote. we let them out of prison already, and it’s as though some people think if they can’t vote for the lesser of two evils like the rest of us, they’ll understand how disappointed we are in their life choices.

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