Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Felons Voting?

I had a brief back and forth last night with a fellow in comments to a Sacramento Bee article on a prison related issue. It started out with him writing that we allow felons to vote. I replied that it was my understanding felons aren't allowed to vote. He countered that he works in a California prison and had been tasked with providing some inmates absentee ballots.

That motivated me to do a quick internet search where I found this table of felon voting restrictions, or lack thereof. I was surprised at what I saw. I'll admit to having not given the issue a lot of thought before, but certainly thought that was one of the aspects of punishment for felonies: You can't vote. In fact, every now and then I've read of some movement to restore voting rights for felons.

It doesn't seem to be that bad. California, for instance, allows a felon's voting rights restored after he's served his sentence and isn't on parole anymore.

Other states have various restrictions with a number having the possibility of permanent revocation of voting rights and a couple, Maine and Vermont, with none and even allowing voting in prison. That would suggest what the fellow told me in the SacBee forums isn't correct. I'm not saying he's lying. I'm just saying, according to the table, California doesn't allow felons to vote in prison. Maybe the table is wrong?

The guy said he'd ask about it at work today. Hopefully, he'll get back and clarify.

At any rate, it looks like what I'd been thinking and hearing about all felons not being able to vote wasn't quite right. If it's true that California doesn't allow voting by felons until they're removed from parole status, I'd say California has it right and that's the way it should be.


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Pearl said...

I think that's reasonable. Once you've paid for your crime, why should the punishment continue?


At 10:13 AM, Anonymous crmartin said...

I would think the ability to reaquire rights would be a good thing. We cannot just write someone off just because they make a mistake.

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

"What about those non-violent felonies?"


The drug war is b-s and takes away more people from voting, when it should not. (verify validity)

Violent behavior, on the other hand, is unacceptible AND I doubt that a majority of violent felons have the scruples to even vote properly, let alone intelligently!

On a different note,

"What about those non-criminals who are eligible to vote, but because of being disenfranchised, DON'T AND WON'T VOTE! The power trippers on the inside get sicly twisted when knowing less voters allows an easier opportunity to achieve a rigged voting process where the lack of votes creates ideal opportunities for legislators to deceive, manipulate and use a simple majority of folks to get stuff passed by vote. When elitists are all that is left as voters, a TOTAL police state shall be affirmed! - HOJ

At 8:52 AM, Blogger Rob Walker said...

I am willing to bet that the poster who said they delivered absentee ballots to inmates won't be getting back to you. You see, aiding and abetting someone in the commission of a crime is a crime too. The crime of voting while your rights have been suspended would be voter fraud and any agent of the state would know that if they did only the most basic of inquiries. Yeah, as with most, when you hear something that sounds patently ridiculous, it generally is.

As for the state of the nation and it's rights, you cannot equate disenfranshisement with stripping someone of their civil rights. The US has 2.1 million people jailed in our prisons. More than any other country in the world. We put people away for longer periods of time and for less severe crimes than anyone. Once there, we do nothing to try to change the behavior of those people. Instead, we leave them to the prisoner indoctrination system that has a recidivism rate of nearly 80% (actually 78.3) -- nearly 4 points higher than our graduation rate from High School! (73.4%).

You see, it comes down to what the populace values and encourages. When in the course of the day you spend more time worrying about building more prisons and passing more laws about the punishment of a people of the betterment of a people you will find that you are going to have situations like this. Where people demand that felons lose everything forever and that only those people lucky enough to be born white and in the suburbs have any *rights* at all. Of course, smoke and mirrors, because we do lose when we strip and limit the rights of others. I think that while incarcerated, it is a safe bet that you shouldnt give the power to change laws to the inmates, but to think of stripping someone of their rights forever when they have paid the state its due through time in the penal system seems a little too much

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I am willing to bet that the poster who said they delivered absentee ballots to inmates won't be getting back to you. You see, aiding and abetting someone in the commission of a crime is a crime too..

He never did come back and post any update from what I've seen. He seemed legit enough, though.

I was wondering if maybe someone in power where he worked had a different interpretation of the law and was going with that? I've seen that happen before.

I also wondered how the elections folks would know if someone was prohibited from voting in the first place? I believe I read somewhere many years ago that the courts supply a list to election offices, but what would the elections people do with it? Just remove their names from the voter rolls?

Maybe that's all it would take. I don't know. If they did that, inmates in prison for felonies wouldn't get an absentee ballot in the first place, assuming elections is proactive in keeping their voter lists up to date.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Good points Rob, but disenfranchised "non-criminal" voters could help lessen the stripping of inmates rights to vote if the disenfranchised voted.

Less non-criminal voters means less people voting to restore voting rights for criminals....it is all smoke and mirros like you write. - HOJ


Post a Comment

<< Home