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November 1, 2004

Felony disenfranchisement in the swing states

Following up this recent post on the important issue of felony disenfranchisement, this distressing Miami Herald article reminded me of the notable contrast in the treatment of the felons' right to vote in the swing states of Ohio and Florida.

As discussed more fully here, though the Ohio Constitution expressly authorizes the Ohio General Assembly "to exclude from the privilege of voting, or of being eligible to office, any person convicted of a felony," the Ohio General Assembly has chosen to prohibit only incarcerated felons from voting; in Ohio offenders on probation, paroled felons, and all ex-felons are permitted to vote, and the restoration of the franchise occurs automatically once a felon is paroled, pardoned, or granted judicial release. See Ohio Revised Code § 2961.01. By disenfranchising felons only while they are imprisoned, Ohio maintains one of the least restrictive felon disenfranchisement policies in the nation (although Vermont and Maine permit even incarcerated felons to vote as noted in this NY Times article today). See generally The Sentencing Project, Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States (2004).

In sharp contrast, as this this Miami Herald article details, Florida has the most restrictive felony disenfranchisement laws in the nation and more than one-half million Floridians will not be able to vote because of these laws. And, as the Herald article explains, for ex-felons in Florida "the hope of having their civil rights restored — including the right to vote — has been frustrated by an overwhelmed and troubled clemency system." After reading the Herald article, I could not help but wonder whether at least some of our monies and energies spent trying to spread democracy around the world might be better spent trying to improve democracy at home.

November 1, 2004 at 02:48 PM | Permalink

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Comments

That is not right because everybody should have
the right to vote and they did there time for what they did,they could have changed

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