States restore voting rights to ex-convicts (updated)

I am dead set against those serving time in jail getting the right to vote. But even if you see jail as pure punishment and not a place where a criminal pays a debt to society, once someone has been released, I believe their right to vote should be restored.

Many of the laws that prevent ex-convicts from voting were passed long ago when it was thought that convicts had forfeited their rights in many areas because of their transgressions against society. In the south, such laws were used to depress the number of African American voters.

Today, many states recognize that it is patently unfair to deny someone the right to vote because of what they did in
their past:

Felony disenfranchisement - often a holdover from exclusionary Jim Crow-era laws like poll taxes and ballot box literacy tests - affects about 5.3 million former and current felons in the United States, according to voting rights groups. But voter registration and advocacy groups say that recent overhauls of these Reconstruction-era laws have loosened enough in some states to make it worth the time to lobby statehouses for more liberal voting restoration processes, and to try to track down former felons in indigent neighborhoods.

"You're talking about incredible numbers of people out there who now may have had their right to vote restored and don't even know it," said Reggie Mitchell, a former voter-registration worker for People for the American Way. In Florida, "we're talking tens of thousands of people," he said. "And in the 2000 election, in the state of Florida, 300 people made the difference."

While it is true that ACORN has a role in this project, other more mainstream organizations like the NAACP have taken up the cause as well.

No, they probably won't vote Republican. But if you care about righting an injustice, you recognize that progress in this area is good for America. 

Update by Thomas Lifson:

I strongly disagree with Rick that there is any injustice in denying felons the right to vote. Although Rick does not use the word "felon", as far as I know, people jailed for misdemeanors do not lose the right to vote anywhere in the United States, except, perhaps, while in jail.
There is no such thing as an "ex-felon" -- other than those people whose convictions have been reversed. Calling felons released from jail "ex-cons" obliterates the law's judgment that they have committed the serious crimes. The reason such people are denied the vote is because they have demonstrated that they have contempt for society's important rules. Why should they have a choice equal to Rick's or mine in setting our political future? They do not respect the law and should have no say in its making or enforcement. Period.

Just serving time (and costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year in the process) does not "pay back" society in any sense, particularly when victims are injured, killed, traumatized, and otherwise affected in ways that never end. Where is the injustice in denying such people the vote?

The people pushing the enfranchisement of felons have self-serving political aims in doing so. I am appalled that Rick raises the race canard as well. Ed Lasky addressed this nauseating political tactic years ago. 
I am dead set against those serving time in jail getting the right to vote. But even if you see jail as pure punishment and not a place where a criminal pays a debt to society, once someone has been released, I believe their right to vote should be restored.

Many of the laws that prevent ex-convicts from voting were passed long ago when it was thought that convicts had forfeited their rights in many areas because of their transgressions against society. In the south, such laws were used to depress the number of African American voters.

Today, many states recognize that it is patently unfair to deny someone the right to vote because of what they did in
their past:

Felony disenfranchisement - often a holdover from exclusionary Jim Crow-era laws like poll taxes and ballot box literacy tests - affects about 5.3 million former and current felons in the United States, according to voting rights groups. But voter registration and advocacy groups say that recent overhauls of these Reconstruction-era laws have loosened enough in some states to make it worth the time to lobby statehouses for more liberal voting restoration processes, and to try to track down former felons in indigent neighborhoods.

"You're talking about incredible numbers of people out there who now may have had their right to vote restored and don't even know it," said Reggie Mitchell, a former voter-registration worker for People for the American Way. In Florida, "we're talking tens of thousands of people," he said. "And in the 2000 election, in the state of Florida, 300 people made the difference."

While it is true that ACORN has a role in this project, other more mainstream organizations like the NAACP have taken up the cause as well.

No, they probably won't vote Republican. But if you care about righting an injustice, you recognize that progress in this area is good for America. 

Update by Thomas Lifson:

I strongly disagree with Rick that there is any injustice in denying felons the right to vote. Although Rick does not use the word "felon", as far as I know, people jailed for misdemeanors do not lose the right to vote anywhere in the United States, except, perhaps, while in jail.
There is no such thing as an "ex-felon" -- other than those people whose convictions have been reversed. Calling felons released from jail "ex-cons" obliterates the law's judgment that they have committed the serious crimes. The reason such people are denied the vote is because they have demonstrated that they have contempt for society's important rules. Why should they have a choice equal to Rick's or mine in setting our political future? They do not respect the law and should have no say in its making or enforcement. Period.

Just serving time (and costing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year in the process) does not "pay back" society in any sense, particularly when victims are injured, killed, traumatized, and otherwise affected in ways that never end. Where is the injustice in denying such people the vote?

The people pushing the enfranchisement of felons have self-serving political aims in doing so. I am appalled that Rick raises the race canard as well. Ed Lasky addressed this nauseating political tactic years ago.