ExCon and the Vote

Ever since the 2000 election in the United States, the fact that in many states ex-convicts are barred from voting, has become somewhat more known.  Rarely covered in the mainstream media, the few investigative reports done on the topic of voter fraud in places like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, revealed that in several cases, people were taken off of voter rolls and labeled as former convicts.

One related issue that even fewer reports or public figures are brave enough to bring forward is the policies in various US states that keep prisoners, parolees, those on probation and those once convicted of the most minor of offenses, from voting.  In 10 US states people who have served their sentences and are now out of prison, not on parole or probation, are kept from voting for life.  As incarcerated citizens are often stigmatized regardless of their crime or if they’ve already completed their sentence, it would seem the average citizen doesn’t care or see them as deserving of equal rights once they’re back in society.  Which translates to very little political pressure to change this policy that so many states have.

On a recent edition of The State We’re In, this was exactly the topic that was explored. Specifically the program looked into how ex-cons feel about not having that right. And, for those who do, what importance they give to having that right. What interested me most was when they briefly touched on studies that have shown that when ex-cons return to society and have their right to vote restored, this can have the effect of making them feel more part of society and responsible for what happens in their community.  Click the link above and listen to the segment, a very important question that hardly any people in positions of power are willing to ask.

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4 thoughts on “ExCon and the Vote

  • October 27, 2008 at 2:08 pm
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    I have long been an advocate of restoring the right to vote to ex-cons that have fulfilled their “debt to society”. Banning them for life is outrageous, especially when many ex-cons would use their right to vote… unlike 40% of Americans now.

  • October 27, 2008 at 6:34 pm
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    Sorry for beeing doltish, but I see absolutly no reason why a healthy so called democracy should even consider removing ones right to vote as long as the person is of full age, alive and a legal citizen. For that reason the act of “restoring the right to vote” is somewhat embarrassing, has in my opinion nothing to do with “debt to society” and tells a story of its own about the community we are living in. In contrary to what is often seen as common sense -revoking the right to vote for “some people” permanently or temporary-, I would demand the opposite, that we shouldn’t omit the votes of any stratum (especially the lower without protectionists) under any circumstances! Even sex offenders, murderers, war criminals (soldiers, politicians), economic lunatics and even christian fanatics should be given the opportunity to judge the situation they are living in from their perspective and vote for their advocates (why is there no party for prisoners you got 1%/ 2mil over there afaik). And if our overall system really starts to depend so much on the votes of a few loonies we better start looking for the real problems somewhere else.
    However, as we now see in the US, the current revoking/restoring pattern, besides from lacerating the morale, does not work and the defects are misused even stronger then a “free for all” voting system could ever have done. Without sounding like a total kook in implying that the government has planned this all along, the emerging, interesting and somewhat dangerous thing about the present situation is the grow rate of “non voters” and “long term non legal voters” (eg. ex-cons), which could lead to some sort of corporate oligarchy based on a upper/middle class pseudo liberal democracy.

    • October 30, 2008 at 2:36 am
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      not doltish. not at all.

  • October 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm
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    The disproportionate number of black people in prison and the circumstances that they got there is a crime in itself.

    The only interesting politics is the debate outside the political process, the two main candidates are a joke all this effort to get Obama in because he’s less of a cunt than McCain, but not much, I bet that Bush won’t go to trial for war crimes, any takers?

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