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Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm not sure why I found this so interesting but . . .

(I don’t really have a point to make with this post. I just found it interesting and spent some time researching the matter.)

If you have an active sense of sight or hearing, it’s hard to avoid election news this month. (Notice I excluded an active sense of smell, but that might be true to some extent as well.)

Today, I noticed a news story which suggests that convicted felons may be this week’s soccer-moms/Wal-Mart-moms/hockey-moms/NASCAR-dads, etc (the one voting block which will tip the scales.) Apparently, nearly 100% of the felon vote goes to one party. (I’m not sure how they know this. I thought votes were confidential.) The article suggested that, if felons were open to spreading their votes more equally between the parties, it wouldn’t be an issue but being so single-minded in their voting presents an unfair situation.

But wait, felons can’t vote, right? My understanding was that convicted felons lost certain civil rights, including the right to vote. There are no voting booths in prison so they’re not voting there. And, once they’re released from prison, they regain their right to vote, right? Actually, not always.

Each state sets its own standard for restoring civil rights. From what I’ve been able to discover 33 states automatically restore voting rights when a felon has completed their sentencing. Some states automatically restore voting rights for the first felony but have more severe requirements for additional convictions. 3 states require an Executive Order from the Governor. (1 of these 3 allows a 2/3 majority in the state legislature as well.) 2 states require a pardon even if the sentence is fully served. 2 states do not suspend voting rights in the first place. Some states deem specific crimes to be so serious that voting rights are permanently suspended, the most common crime being buying/selling votes or preventing other from exercising their right to vote.


Beth C. said...

Hey Andy, I never thought about the fact that there are actually a lot of people who could change the election if they were able to vote. When I was at the hospital today I asked if the patients get to vote. They said they offer absentee ballots but many are so sick that I doubt they participate. What about shut ins and disabled people who have a difficult time traveling to the polling place? I bet there are thousands who just can't get out.

Andy Egizi, Program Coordinator said...

I think you're right. Focusing on key groups in key counties can make a big difference. Unfortunately, I think this is why so much effort by both sides is put into keeping people from voting. If they aren't going to vote for you, it's best to keep them away from the polls.