Crist: Restore Voting Rights For FL Ex-Offenders

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has an excellent idea:

... automatically restoring voting rights to felons who complete their sentences. In a recent speech, Mr. Crist pledged to lead the movement for the restoration of voting and civil rights for ex-offenders in Florida and hinted that he might do so by issuing an executive order.

Why is it such a good idea?

It would take the restoration issue out of the hands of a sluggish bureaucracy that has clearly failed to do its job and vault Florida to the forefront of a national movement that aims to extend democracy to ex-offenders. It would also help put an end to one of the most shameful episodes in American electoral history.

This editorial explains why disenfranchisement of ex-offenders is shameful.

[T]hese antidemocratic laws remain entrenched in the Deep South, where they were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of a broad effort to restrict the political influence of African-Americans. And Florida has the most restrictive laws and the highest number of disenfranchised ex-offenders of any state in the country.
< U.S. Atty Pressured to Shut Down Republican Corruption Investigation | Libby Verdict : Guilty of Four Counts >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Sauce for the goose? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 10:57:44 AM EST
    But these antidemocratic laws remain entrenched in the Deep South, where they were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of a broad effort to restrict the political influence of African-Americans.

    Does this mean that permit to carry laws that were meant to keep guns out of the hands of African-Americans should be repealed as well?  Or how about prevailing wage laws that the sponsors openly stated were meant to keep migrant blacks from getting "local" white jobs?

    I have never understood (none / 0) (#2)
    by Maggie Mae on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 11:04:22 AM EST
    why ex-offenders can't vote.  PA used to disallow any felon from voting for five years after incarceration, but, finally, in 2000 that provision was found unconstitutional.

    A search for Pennsylvania's qualifications for voting finds:

    * The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled on December 26, 2000 that the Pennsylvania law prohibiting convicted felons from registering to vote for five years after their release from prison is unconstitutional. Consequently, if completing an older version of the Voter Registration Mail Application (VRMA) form, a convicted felon who has been released from prison may make application to register to vote by striking through the felony conviction line at Section 9(2) on the VRMA and signing his or her name.

    [Please note that convicted felons who are incarcerated on the date of a primary or election are not eligible to vote, irrespective of whether they are registered.  However, pretrial detainees and misdemeanants are eligible to apply to register to vote and /or to vote by absentee ballot if they otherwise qualify to vote under law.]

    Starting sometime in 2005, I believe, the PA legislature pushed and passed an onerous  bill  that not only required PA voters to show a valid, photo ID in order to vote, but also denied the voting rights of ex-felons who are serving probation or parole.  Luckily, Rendell vetoed it, citing the disenfranchisement of voters as his major objection.

    Liberal position... (none / 0) (#3)
    by rob on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 11:24:52 AM EST
    Any thoughts on why Crist is taking such a liberal position on this?

    As a formerly incarcerated individual (none / 0) (#5)
    by Electa on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 08:55:21 PM EST
    I have a personal interest in this subject.  I agree with the writer that cited the root cause of disenfranchisment and its use to dilute the African-American vote.  Scholars investigating this subject disclose the link between high rates of incarceration among African-Americans as a methodology to systematically reverse VRA65 VRA & African Americans

    The disproportionate incarceration of AA's equates to nothing short of political, socio-economic, and human genocide.  

    An excellent source to stay apprized of the disenfranchisement movement by state is The Sentencing Project

    Although I won my case on appeal I spent 6 mos. in prison and 6 mos. on home confinement under supervised release.


    Crist Does The Right Thing (Again) (none / 0) (#4)
    by john horse on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 05:46:31 PM EST
    Things sure have changed in Florida for the better since Jeb Bush left and Charlie Crist came in.  First, Crist has called for the abandonment of touch screen voting machines.  Now he wants automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons.  

    Why is Crist doing this?  Believe it or not there are some Republicans who are genuinely decent people and who want to do the right thing.