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October 25, 2012

The most (unsurprisingly) ignored potential voting group: former felons

This Reuters article, headlined "U.S. felons a potentially powerful yet shunned voting bloc," spotlights that there is one notable group of voters who have not gotten any love or attention this election season. Here are excerpts from this piece:

Felons could account for up to 10 percent of the roughly 130 million Americans expected to vote in the November 6 election, more than enough to affect the razor-thin margins that could determine the outcome.  But as in years past, neither Democrats nor Republicans are doing much to reach out to them.

"Criminals are not a popular constituency," says James Hamm, 64, who spent 17 years in prison in Arizona for a drug-related homicide and now heads an inmate advocacy group with his wife, a retired judge.  "Politicians don't want to say, 'Hey, I have the backing of people who committed crimes.'"

Still, both presidential campaigns have reason to be attentive to the estimated 13.4 million felons who are eligible to vote.

Felons traditionally vote Democratic, says Christopher Uggen, a University of Minnesota sociologist, who co-authored a 2006 book, "Locked Out: Felony Disenfranchisement and American Democracy." That is because felons come disproportionately from groups that align with Democrats, such as minorities, the poor and urban residents. In this group, Uggen says, "you aren't going to find too many Mitt Romney supporters."

A 2010 study that Uggen participated in found that just one in five felons who are eligible to vote actually do so, most mistakenly believing they are not.  Myriad state laws that take different approaches to restoring felons' voting rights contribute to the confusion....

In 38 states, most felons automatically regain the right to vote once they complete their sentences, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Felons in others states must not only complete their sentences but wait a certain amount of time before they can again cast ballots.  In Maine and Vermont, felons never forfeit their right to vote. In Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia, felons are barred from voting unless the governor decides otherwise....

"Studies show that the recidivism rate for felons goes down significantly when they are given back their basic civil rights, including the right to vote," said Ron Bilbao of the ACLU in Florida. "The governor went in the wrong direction."

Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocacy group for criminal justice, said ex-inmates are generally ignored when it comes to voting.  "There simply isn't a lot of encouragement for them to even register," said Mauer.  "If we believe everyone should vote, we shouldn't put character conditions on it."

October 25, 2012 at 09:08 PM | Permalink

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Ironic. Just as mysterious as support for the Party of the KKK by most Jews and Blacks. Someone explain why on earth someone would support the party of the lawyers and rent seekers that put that same someone in a cage. Most of the convicted felons were caught on made up rules with no external or scientific validation save their enforcement at the point of a gun, for the sake of the enlargement of government make work jobs. It is also the Democratic Party that totally accounts for all racial disparities in crime victimization. It does so most heavily by destroying the authority of the black patriarchal family. The latter is nearly defunct, and criminality and Roman Orgy values have replaced it. Blacks also favor the Muslim religion. Muslims are the biggest slavers of black people on earth, even today.

One explanation is plain hatred of this country by Jews, Blacks and Felons, a hatred so intense no amount of toxic consequences can overcome it. These consequences include an excess of 5000 murders of black people over that expected from their fraction of the population. It took the KKK 100 years to lynch 5000 black males. It takes the feminist lawyer one year to do the same. The feminist lawyer, the destroyer of the black patriarchal family, has been 100 times more murderous than the KKK.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 25, 2012 9:38:35 PM

Would that our criminal justice system still had as a principle, if it ever did, the opportunity for redemption.

Posted by: Guy | Oct 25, 2012 11:31:13 PM

Guy --

Redemption is a matter of heart and soul, not something the criminal justice system, or any component of the government, can provide.

A person can start on redemption by changing the behavior that earned him his conviction, and by making it up to the person or persons he wronged. Redemption also means replacing anger about what you don't have with gratitude for what you do. If you're still snarling, you're not redeemed.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 26, 2012 2:33:24 AM

--The most (unsurprisingly) ignored potential voting group: former felons--
Are they ignored?

I was living in Polk Co. FL during the 2000 election.
Though I was not as politically aware or active as now, since I was working for the Sheriffs' (FSYR), I did catch what was going on in law enforcement/elections in neighbouring Orange Co. (Orlando) & vicinity.

x—x There were church buses taking down-and-outers, homeless folk, and those on public assistance to vote, and admittedly on the news, telling them to vote Democrat. When the organizers were interviewed, they raised the *felon* issue, and expressed how they would still get these votes counted.
[At least since the 90s, absentee ballots also were regularly filled-out by "assistants" for the poor and elderly on behalf of a certain party]. [I remember watching blatant examples of this on TV in Orlando when I lived there around '96].

o—o There were also claims by *national* leaders in 2000 that the Sheriff or Police were misleading Black voters
as to polling places, trying to confuse them to suppress the vote, etc. I met and saw OC Sheriff Berry—didn’t
happen--I know about the changes in polling places, and the charges were farcical. The list of Police Chiefs/
Sheriffs in the state was approx. 50/50 Dem-Repub at the time, and the alleged locales had similarly mixed
leadership.

x—x *Felons*—identified as such--and other convicted criminals were sought by Democratic recruiters in Orlando in 2000, as I mentioned. To separate and target this population as a desired constituency was disturbing to me then, and is counter-productive to their restoration today as always, is it not?

Although I was a registered Democrat for a spell in the 90s, such as this turned me away from the Party.

Posted by: Adamakis | Oct 26, 2012 11:01:29 AM

"If we believe everyone should vote, we shouldn't put character conditions on it."

Who does he mean by "we"? The American people generally? Of course "we" don't believe everyone should vote. Convicted felons presently in prison can't vote in 48 states. Children can't vote anywhere. Noncitizens can't vote.

We definitely should put character conditions on it. Persons convicted of the most serious felonies (e.g., murder) should never vote again. At a lower level, they should get their vote back when they have demonstrated they have indeed "gone straight."

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Oct 26, 2012 11:02:57 AM

When my client who had been incarcerated for 18 years was finally paroled, the only detour he took on his way to my office was to register to vote. I have no doubt he will be exercising his right to vote and hope others in his position will do the same.

Posted by: Amy Cleary | Oct 26, 2012 12:51:06 PM

Bill:

While I appreciate your lecture on what redemption means, speaking as someone who has been underfoot of the criminal justice system, it sounds hollow. You conflate personal with civic redemption. Our society treats criminals as criminals for life, with the innumerable collateral consequences of conviction (which goes triple for convictions of sex crimes) that do not change irrespective of the personal redemption of the offender or steps that they take to

To call out a system as being completely unmoored from principles of proportionality, fairness, and the opportunity for redemption is not to snarl, but is merely to point out that there is, in fact, an 800-lb gorilla in the living room.

Posted by: Guy | Oct 26, 2012 9:55:47 PM

Guy --

"While I appreciate your lecture on what redemption means..."

Other than that it wasn't a lecture and you don't appreciate it, you're spot on.

Guy, I did not create your problems and I am not the one who can solve them. As I have said before on this blog, my house manager did time in state prison for attacking a trooper. But he's an honest man and doesn't look to other people to carry his burdens for him.

The reason I trust him is that he has earned it. Yes, I gave him the chance to earn it, as I would and have given chances to others.

I doubt that you are old enough, wise enough, or broadly experienced enough to make incredibly broad-brush statements trashing the country as "completely unmoored from principles of proportionality, fairness, and...opportunity..." There are millions upon millions of people who take considerable risks and bear considerable costs and hardship to come here from other lands. I doubt they do this thinking the country is the stinking cauldron you portray. But it's useless to try to convince you that, at age 25 or whatever it is, you know less than everything.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 27, 2012 12:48:44 AM

The lawyer profession makes 99% of government policy decisions. It is not a conspiracy subejct to conspiracy theories. It is organized like a criminal cult enterprise. It has core supernatural beliefs, such as mind reading (mens rea), future forecasting (foreseeability), and a standard of due care set by a fictional character (to stay "objective", but really because the reasonable person setting the standard is Jesus, an constitutionally unacceptable fictional religious character himself.).

Every single self-stated goal of every law subject is in failure. The profession is in utter failure, save for one area of spectacular success, the seeking of the rent, taking in a $trillion at the point of a gun, and causing damages worth far in excess of this cost. This gun is hired and paid for by the taxpayer, making the the criminal enterprise perfect. The lawyer finances the armed robbery of the taxpayer with taxpayer funds. Perfection in crime..

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 27, 2012 1:04:23 AM

LOL nah that's not it bill. They just know that now matter how messed up this country it. It is still better than rest of them.

So it's worth the shot!

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Posted by: asics pas cher | Oct 27, 2012 5:28:57 AM

Kent Scheidegger: "We definitely should put character conditions on it. Persons convicted of the most serious felonies (e.g., murder) should never vote again. At a lower level, they should get their vote back when they have demonstrated they have indeed "gone straight.""

If the person has not been convicted of voter fraud, then what is the harm in allowing a person convicted of a crime to vote? If having the right to vote is conditional upon character, wouldn't that also prohibit many in law enforcement as well as a slew of politicians from voting? If its a question of judgement, or lack thereof, shouldn't anyone who had an affair, or beats their wife and kids [but has not been convicted] also be prohibited from voting? Should we require IQ and/or psychological testing [the latter I am sure would have prevented the entire T-Bagger caucus from ever getting elected]. Is the problem that most cons vote Blue over Red?

Social contract theory fails to provide adequate explanations for the denial of the right to vote.

Bill Otis: "A person can start on redemption by changing the behavior that earned him his conviction, and by making it up to the person or persons he wronged."

Dunderhead. Do you know every person that has ever been released from prison to know whether or not they have changed their behavior, Otis? What about victimless crimes?

You love making assumptions. How many times have you broken your arms patting yourself on your hairy back?

Posted by: Huh? | Oct 27, 2012 10:00:08 PM

There are 50,000 civil consequences of a criminal conviction. If a regulation is relevant to the crime, it promotes safety, and is constitutional. For example, convicted car jackers should not receive permits to carry hidden pistols.

If the regulation is unrelated to the crime, it is an additional punishment without Fifth Amendment due process. So I agree with the commentator that suggested only felons with voter fraud convictions should not be allowed to vote.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 28, 2012 10:07:01 AM

Huh? --

"How many times have you broken your arms patting yourself on your hairy back?"

None, but if you want to try it, feel free, tough guy. You'll wind up back in prison.

Oh, wait, you haven't told the board that you're an ex-con. Want to now? Or would you rather have it done for you?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 28, 2012 4:21:03 PM

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