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March 5, 2012

Super Tuesday meets sex offender panic in Virginia

With Super Tuesday on my mind (and lots of political ads on my TV), I found notable this local article from Virginia headlined "Schools Take Precautions as Voters Head to the Polls."  Here are excerpts:

When your child heads to school Tuesday, they could be coming dangerously close to a sex offender.  The Republican presidential primary is Tuesday, and since schools often serve as polling places, they have to allow all registered voters in -- even sex offenders.

It's a touchy topic.  Four schools in Charlottesville, two in Greene County, five in Orange County, and several more across the state are acting as voting precincts for elections, with schools in session.

But a lot of people wonder why sex offenders are allowed to vote on school property in the first place.  When schools open their doors for classes, parents know the law prohibits sex offenders from coming in.

In Virginia, it's clear -- every adult convicted of a sexually violent offense is prohibited from entering or being present during school hours and during school-related activities. However, that law does not apply if the offender is registered and qualified to vote, and is coming on school property solely to cast their ballot.

It's a provision that has parents like Janet Ball worried.  "As a mother and a grandmother, I do not want a sex offender anywhere near that school, no matter what," she said....

School officials don't anticipate any type of contact at all between their students and voters.  Doors will be locked from the gym to the school and extra hands will be on deck to keep voters away from kids.

Jeck even went on to explain that they are using this as a teaching to tool to help kids understand what all goes into the voting process, but a lot of people say keeping voters away from students isn't good enough.  They want the law changed to keep sexual predators away from schools at all times.  "I think that they should be provided with an absentee ballot, that would take care of this issue," said voter Virginia Ferrell.

"But that's been the law, they have been allowed to in the state of Virginia for years, so hopefully that won't be an issue because you always worry you know, being a mother and grandmother myself, you constantly worry," said Greene County Registrar Sandra Shifflett.

On a positive note, the voting exception is only granted to those sexual offenders who have not been convicted of a felony.  Anyone with a felony has their right to vote taken away all together.

This story strikes me as a truly great (aka truly terrible) example of sensationalized sex offender panic reporting.  The first sentence asserts that kids on election day could be coming "dangerously close to a sex offender," but later the article notes that school official "don't anticipate any type of contact at all between their students and voters," and it ends by noting that anyone convicted of a felony is not even able to vote in Virginia.  (That said, given all the SuperPAC commercials I have seen attacking one candidate for supporting ex-felon voting rights, perhaps the local media is wise to alert parents about the risk of hordes of disenfrachised Virginia sex offenders storming the polling places in Virginia to try to find a way to vote for Rick Santorum.)

March 5, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

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Comments

California had a problem, exposed by fine investigative journalism, that some polling precincts were at the homes of sex offenders. See, e.g., a news article reproduced in full here: http://www.circleofmoms.com/debating-mums/ca-polling-locations-at-registered-sex-offender-s-homes-600482

Money quote: "'I wouldn't feel comfortable because what if they were there,' Victoria wondered aloud, thinking about voting there with her child. 'You leave your kid alone for a second and you don't know what's going to happen, you know?'"

Fortunately, AB-193 apparently passed in CA earlier this year to redress this threat. Parents need no longer fear that a stranger may take their child alone into the voting booth!

Posted by: Alex | Mar 6, 2012 12:39:50 AM

"so hopefully that won't be an issue because you always worry you know, being a mother and grandmother myself, you constantly worry,"

What type of parent "always" and "constantly" worries??? Is this woman a psychopath or what. I swear reporters go to the local mental ward to find their "woman on the street".

The sad truth is that "Nothing to worry about" will not sell on damn paper or get one ad-click.

Posted by: justmeagain | Mar 6, 2012 12:50:40 AM

Professor Berman: "the risk of hordes of disenfrachised Virginia sex offenders storming the polling places in Virginia to try to find a way to vote for Rick Santorum"

me: actually no one can vote for Rick Santorum in the Virginia primary. Rick Santorum isn't on the ballot in Virginia and Virginia doesn't allow write in votes in primaries - probably due to the fact that there is no party registration here which could create utter chaos when a fictional cartoon character like Minnie Mouse or Michelle Bachmann wins the primary.

The funniest thing about this is that most people expect that almost nobody will vote in the Virginia Republican Presidential Primary because the only candidates who qualified for the ballot are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul

This article kind of reminds me of Bart Simpson line from Sideshow Bob Roberts - "the dead have risen and they are voting Republican!"

"The Sex Offenders are coming and they are voting Republican!"

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Mar 6, 2012 9:40:16 AM

I'm about to head out the door to vote in this primary. I must say that, until I read this story, all this sex offender stuff never even entered my head -- something I'm sure I have in common with the huge majority of the electorate. We have bigger fish to fry in this election, such as the fact we're headed for bankruptcy and Iran is building The Big One while Obama wants us to be "patient" for this, the 49th round of sanctions. Something tells me we'll be just "patient" enough for the mullahs to get it, triggering a Mideast nuclear arms race. Wonderful.

Anyway, the two candidates who qualified for the ballot are Romney and Ron Paul. Let's just say I'll be writing in Barry Goldwater.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 9:41:56 AM

Erika is correct -- no write-in's in Virginia primaries. Now there is probably some constitutional challenge lurking in there somewhere, but it's not important enough to get riled up about. I think I'll write in Goldwater anyway. That's not a crime, incidentally -- the penalty is that the ballot isn't counted. As if a ballot for Goldwater would have counted for a lot anyway.

I guess this is my version of "civil disobedience."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 10:11:33 AM

Bill,

Way to be a rebel, dude.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Mar 6, 2012 10:50:29 AM

Soronel --

This is my second excursion into rebellion. My first was to come home from Stanford with love beads, a tie-dyed shirt, and hair down to my shoulders. My father, who was paying my tuition, was not thrilled about this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 11:16:45 AM

Okay, Bill, but after making your protest statement I hope you will recognize that Mr. Romney would be a huge improvement over the status quo.

I will vote for him enthusiastically in the California primary. Unfortunately, that vote will also be meaningless as the nomination contest will be over for all practical purposes.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Mar 6, 2012 1:26:09 PM

Bill Otis: "We have bigger fish to fry in this election, such as the fact we're headed for bankruptcy and Iran is building The Big One while Obama wants us to be "patient" for this, the 49th round of sanctions. Something tells me we'll be just "patient" enough for the mullahs to get it, triggering a Mideast nuclear arms race. Wonderful."

You are a fear mongering hawk, Otis. The guy running around in a theater yelling "FIRE!" Its just like you to go from SO's to Obama, to mullahs. Like your weed to heroine mantra. Someone has you brainwashed.

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 6, 2012 1:40:09 PM

Huh?

ditto to your comments..

Posted by: lax | Mar 6, 2012 1:47:59 PM

You know, while its easy to make fun of the Charlottesville edition of The Onion's story here (oopsie, this was actually a real news story from a real TV station), I have an actual solution to the problem:

When I was in elementary school, my school served as a polling place - on election days, the school was closed for teacher workdays.

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Mar 6, 2012 2:08:17 PM

fun fact: in 2008 John McCain was the first Republican Presidential candidate to lose in Virginia since Barry Goldwater.

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Mar 6, 2012 2:16:08 PM

What a stupid article about a non-existent problem. Fear and hatred are sown by the devil and what fertile ground he has in publicly educated Amerika!

That is why we are broke. Too many law enforcement types hyping their own worthless agenda.

PS: Did anyone read the article today about a Texas sheriff controlled drone crashing into a SWAT Team armored vehicle. Yesiree Bob, our best and brightest enter LE, especially in Texas which every other state is trying to emulate.

Posted by: albeed | Mar 6, 2012 2:21:21 PM

"On a positive note, the voting exception is only granted to those sexual offenders who have not been convicted of a felony. Anyone with a felony has their right to vote taken away all together."

I know that this is just local media and all, but I thought that objectivity was at least something that reporters should strive for.

One might, and I would, argue that it's not really a positive note at all. People who have served their sentences many years over and have done everything that's asked of them are once again informed that they can never be anything greater than the worst thing that they have ever done. Moreover, even should they seek to exercise the "right" to vote, a "right" taken for granted by the vast majority of Americans, they are forbidden from doing so on the basis of...well...whatever passes for a plausible justification for felony disenfranchisement laws these days.

Posted by: Guy | Mar 6, 2012 3:17:22 PM

Kent --

I have a sentimental attachment to Goldwater. At the 1964 convention at the Cow Palace, I was a messenger boy in his campaign.

Don't worry, I'll be behind Romney when the time comes, and may well hold a fundraiser for him at my home. There is little in this world more certain than that the judiciary can ill afford four more years of Obama appointments.

In politics as in everything else in life, the only important question is, "What's the alternative?" That question alone seals my vote.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 4:12:45 PM

Huh? --

"You are a fear mongering hawk, Otis. The guy running around in a theater yelling 'FIRE!'"

A person who doesn't yell FIRE when there is one is a pretty low-down human being. Still, I welcome you to your feckless complacency.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 4:17:40 PM

Huh --

Ditto.

---

And ...

Obama is horrible and dishonest. He violates the Constitution with almost as much frequency as George Bush did.

The only thing worse than Obama is Republicans.

We need something other than these mainstream Republicans and Democrats.

Anyone who thinks Romney would be better than Obama is a fool.

Posted by: Calif. Capital Defense Counsel | Mar 6, 2012 4:17:57 PM

Bill stated: "A person who doesn't yell FIRE when there is one is a pretty low-down human being. Still, I welcome you to your feckless complacency."

Ditto your comments.

PS, what is the chance of me getting a picture of you with the long hair and love beads? That is high comedy! :-)

Funny how the same people who were chanting "stay on topic" in one thread are hijacking this one to call others things like "fear mongering hawk."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Mar 6, 2012 4:58:57 PM

TarlsQtr --

The pictures are available for a nominal contribution to "Rubio in 2016." Or you can pick them up in Hawaii when you stop by.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 6, 2012 5:09:28 PM

The reporter is only patially right where he asserts that felons in Virginia may not vote. In fact, felons have a process in which they can get their voting rights restored after 3 or 5 years following the completion of their sentence (including parole and probation).

The information is located here: http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=286#Virginia

Posted by: Eric Knight | Mar 6, 2012 5:35:28 PM

Funny that Bill Otis thinks we have "bigger fish to fry in this election" that being worried about "all this sex offender stuff". I feel the exact opposite. In fact, the immoral Registries are a cancer that is killing the U.S. from within.

As long as the War Against Registry Terrorists (WART) is active, I will not bother concerning myself with any other problems/concerns that anyone else has. China, Iran, or anyone else can own the U.S. and I won't lift a finger to do anything about it. If it gets too bad here, I will take the piles of money that I have extracted from other people and I will go somewhere decent. The Registries don't do anything productive but they are very good at transforming people into people who don't give a damn about other people or the U.S.

I will vote for anyone who will immediately shrink the criminal governments. Since Republicans seem to be the most repugnant of the people, can't seem to get enough of trying to control other people, and can't have enough laws or big nanny governments, if it seems they have a chance of winning, I will have to vote for Obama. In the past, I have voted for Ron Paul but that may not be possible this year.

I am still actively revolting against the Registries every single day. Those of you who think that can be stopped need to step up and at least try (or step up and make it worse!). You've done a pathetic job so far but you'll do no better. Or you can just keep idiotically supporting the lies and propaganda stunts of the criminal governments.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Mar 8, 2012 8:22:51 AM

Bill Otis: "A person who doesn't yell FIRE when there is one is a pretty low-down human being. Still, I welcome you to your feckless complacency."

There is no fire, Otis. That's the issue with people like you. The dominant part of your brain is that part which is responsible for guttural reactions. While the dominant part of the brain the rest of us rely on is that part of the brain responsible for reason. Its clear that you and reason are not acquainted.

Righties are sickos [e.g. Sick Santorum or Sen. Glenn Grothman (who wants to declare single mothers child abusers)]. Racism, misogyny, fear mongering, intolerance and genophobia are just some of the qualifications needed to be a Righty. Delirium is your state of mind. I realize you can't help yourselves. You are on the losing side of the issues, which is why Obama is going to be your President until 2016.

From now on I'll call you Nancy Grace, okay?

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 8, 2012 9:14:11 PM

well i see SUPER TUESDAY came and went and NOT THE FIRST DAMN EX CON....SEX OFFENDER or otherwise so much as TOUCHED a kid let alone SNATCHED one from the school..

So more bullshit from the govt and media retards that need to be removed for the gene pool anyway possible!

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 9, 2012 9:16:27 PM

Huh?

"From now on I'll call you Nancy Grace, okay?"

Is there some reason I should care what an anonymous mullah-hugging nimwit calls me?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 11, 2012 4:57:05 PM

Nancy Grace: "Is there some reason I should care what an anonymous mullah-hugging nimwit calls me?"

You cared enough to take the time to respond.

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 15, 2012 12:03:24 AM

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